Thankful


An unconventional Thanksgiving holiday for me. My husband and I are here in Arizona, spending it with my father in his new home. The one he barely had time to share with his bride Eileen, who succumbed to cancer a few months after they were married. I planned to cook my father an old-fashioned turkey dinner with all of the trimmings. To gather at his table of round with my husband and brother, where together, we would share a prayer of Thanksgiving.

When my husband and I arrived late last night, my father hugged me tight. His home was neat and tidy. A silver tray of grapes and crackers of wheat plus  yellow cheeses sat on top of a swirling black and gray granite counter.

“No cooking for you,” my father stated,” surprising me with a slight smile. “We’ve been invited to Troy and Ellen’s for Thanksgiving dinner.” I was taken aback at this news. Troy and Ellen was part of Eileen’s immediate family. I had been looking forward to spending a quiet holiday with my father, having flown all the way from St. Louis to Arizona. Still, Dad was part of Eileen’s family too, and I was selfish not to share him.

“That will be nice, Dad, I mumbled,” munching on a cracker while pulling a stool up to the kitchen counter.

After tumbling into bed last night, I pondered over the coming Thanksgiving Day.

I realized how lucky my father was to have Eileen’s family embrace him as part of their own. Her grandchildren often stopped to visit after school, where they shared stories of love that brought smiles to his face. Eileen’s daughter occasionally dropped off a casserole covered in silver foil before going to work, or one of her sons-in-law repaired something for him in his home. Sometimes, Eileen’s family members took my dad out for an evening of karaoke, where he sang his troubles away until another day.

In a few hours my Thanksgiving dinner will be shared with Eileen’s family. It is an unexpected blessing that my father has remained part of her extended family. For that I am truly thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours,

Kim

*in memory of Eileen 1939-2016

Both families

 

 

 

 

“Grandma Joan”


She was an English war bride, named Joan. Losing her first love shortly after throwing her bouquet, she left her homeland and all that she knew to live in America with her second husband while still grieving her first. It wasn’t long after the war, and she had dreams of the new world awaiting her.

Joan was a kind and gentle soul who had a soft lilting voice, the tone of which reminded me of a string of tinkling brass bells moved by mellow winds during the warmth of a late spring day. While I worked outside the home, Joan sat for my eldest son who was just a baby at the time. It didn’t take long before our family more or less adopted her, calling her, “Grandma Joan.” She touched my baby as though he was her own, rocked him gently and bundled him close. Joan took him for rides in a stroller where he dangled a pudgy fist, hoping her black poodle, Pepper, would tickle it with his pink tongue. She taught him to feed fuzzy, quacking ducks in the lime green pond of the park and read him fairy tales before tucking him in for naps before toppling A.B.C. blocks.  And, when my second son was born she joyously added him to the fold, kissing him from head to toe.

Before long, “Grandma Joan,” spent almost every holiday with us including Christmas and birthdays. I remember whipping up her favorite German chocolate cake for a milestone birthday one year, while my toddlers surprised her with presents she didn’t need but loved to receive. One Christmas day, she delighted me with the gift of an angel soft afghan colored in cream. Surely it took many hours of love and toil to make such a dream. Today, nearly thirty years later, I still wrap up in the warmth of it while dozing in her scent. Joan taught my children manners and messages that can never be replaced while giving me memories of proper grace.

Occasionally, I sensed a chasm of pain behind Joan’s golden rims of wire. Reflecting pools of blue never to surface. A life of  youth and love sunken by war and loss.  As close as we were, some things were better left unspoken. People come in and out of each other’s lives at just the right time as part of fate or from a plan high above in Heaven. During the time we spent with Joan, her husband was dying in a nursing home from Alzheimer’s disease. And, before meeting Joan, my own little family had just moved from afghanout-of-state. We craved the love and touch of maternal wisdom. Suddenly, out of nowhere hearts and homes collided providing both with an extension of a family. Kindness, trust, and love.

This morning a chill is in the air. Doodle dog is by my side as I sit by the fire wrapped in an afghan of cream where I am forever thankful for “Grandma Joan.”

 

 

 

Costumed Charm


The other day we enjoyed Trick-or-Treating with two of our grandchildren in my favorite Missouri city, St. Charles. It is the third oldest city in the state. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Charles,_Missouri Founded in the mid-1700’s by a French-Canadian fur trader, St. Charles looks much like it did hundreds of years ago. The city has been preserved, making visitors feel like they’re stepping back into time. Quaint shops line the original cobblestone streets with a beautiful backdrop of the great Missouri river behind them. Rich in charm, original gingerbread architecture, and filled with history, St. Charles is the last known stop of the Lewis and Clark expedition way back in 1804. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_and_Clark_Expedition

Monday was such a perfect day for Halloween with temperatures rising into the mid-70’s. Surprisingly warm, it might have felt even hot to some of the costumed creatures covered in hair from head to toe. A few were sweating with chocolates melting. Still, others didn’t mind, so thrilled they were to soak up the sun. Charming shops shared treats with characters, big and small until our own little Super Heroes stopped to say, “I don’t want any more candy.” The kids were tired. Little legs had walked a long way. Grandpa carried our grandson on his shoulders while I pushed a stroller. Buckets were heavy, make-up dripped on the monster’s face next to me while a hot pink wig suddenly fell upon a bale of hay.

Afterward, dinner was enjoyed at my son and daughter-in-law’s house while a menagerie of children rang the bell. Ghosts and goblins came to the door, witches of black dusted off brooms and cheerleaders shook pom-poms before cheering for more. Our grand-kids donned satin capes, sure to save a mission or two before calling it a night.

Not long before the children’s bedtime, we gathered ’round the television to watch the movie, Room on the Broom adapted from the children’s book by Julia Donaldson, published in the spring of 2014. No tricks here, just one giant TREAT to end a terrific afternoon and evening of delight.

Below are links to a reading of the book as well as the movie. Please enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWB0goTWZic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuIZThG1APA

 

 

Penny For Your Thoughts?


Long before I knew what growing up ever meant, I had two maternal aunts who were never far from my side, always ready to show me the way. My mother was one of four sisters, one slightly older followed by two younger half-sisters, several years younger. There was never any deviation between the four girls. They loved and fought with the gusto of any sisters, full blood or not.

Upon my birth, my mother’s little sisters, suddenly aunts of mine were only five and seven years of age. Throughout the years, we more or less grew up together, and I often thought of them as big sisters, more friends than relatives. We had a bond, often whispering to each other our innermost secrets and dreams, or wishes for the future which of course changed as the years went by.

When my little brother was three, he needed open heart surgery, one of the first to be performed at U of M Children’s Hospital https://kimgosselinblog.com/2013/10/30/loving-mother-infant-heart-surgery/. I went to stay with my grandparents during this precarious time, including several visits afterward whenever extended follow-up was needed. My aunts made my life magical during a stage in my life that could have easily turned traumatic. They took me under their wings, played with me like a baby doll, and made me feel safe and secure. I remember sharing a room with them, where we slept together in bunks of two while listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks, on their phonograph over and over again. One of my aunts had to climb down the ladder to move the needle over every time the 45 record ended. Up and down, down and up. And, every afternoon, as soon as the two stepped off a giant yellow school bus, another of them would scoop me up before plopping me inside the front of rattan bicycle basket where the three of us rode off into the woods. There, we often sat on the rough of a fallen log where they made up stories while braiding my hair. Sometimes a snack or two was shared while we hunted for woodland treasures, caught frogs or waded in the clear of a bright blue stream among slippery silver minnows. 

The Chipmunks, as seen in the live-action/CGI ...

My aunts, of course, grew older before I did until one day, both of them had boyfriends. By then, I was simply a pest they wanted to swat away. Their sweethearts used to pay me to run across the street where an old neighborhood store sat on the corner. “Buy yourself anything you want,” they said. Suddenly, a shiny silver quarter was stuffed into my pocket, allowing me to purchase handfuls of penny candy. “Take your time.” Far too soon, I was back in front of them carrying a little white paper bag. Bazooka bubbles of gum smiled and popped directly in front of their boyfriend’s faces!

Bins of candy on display at Murphy's Candy and...

When my parents traveled for work, one or the other aunt would often babysit, staying for a weekend or more to wrangle me and my four younger siblings. They attended high school by this time, and I thought they were so cool. One day, I wanted to be just like them! We often shared my mom and dad’s king-sized bed, where I listened to whispered worries in the light of the moon. Treasured secrets never to tell….

Years later, when I married, one aunt was a bridesmaid, while the daughter of the other was my flower girl. Tragedy struck on one of the happiest days of my life. The aunt of my little flower girl had a seizure at the reception and was quickly taken to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. She adored children, especially babies, and rooted me on during my monthly struggle with infertility. Nearing her end, she said, “Come’on, Kimmy. Hurry up and get pregnant! I want to hear the good news before anyone else. Promise me!!”

My aunt passed away in February of 1986 at the age of 34. Three months later, when my EPT tested positive, I dried my tears, hopped into my coveted canary yellow Chevette and drove to the cemetery. There at her gravesite, I bawled my eyes out while sharing my blessing. Yes, she was the first one to hear.

Penny for your thoughts?

Independent motion – can you help?


Please visit Sue’s blog to read her full post. Try to imagine your life without mobility. Surely we can all help her son to get the word out…or even do more. 🙏🏻

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

What would you give to make a dream come true if you woke to find yourself living a nightmare?

What would you feel if you could never again walk on a beach? Or go out alone in the snow…feel the stillness of a wood or cross a field?

And then, you found a way…

In 2009, my son was a successful young man with a bright future… until he was stabbed through the brain in an unprovoked attack and left for dead in an alley.

He was found almost immediately by passers-by who saved his life. By the time we arrived at the hospital, Nick was being prepared for emergency brain surgery. We were allowed to see him, for a few minutes, to say goodbye. He was not expected to survive…


Over the past couple of years, many in the blogging community have come to know my son and know…

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Automated Insulin System Approved for People with Type 1 Diabetes


For years we’ve been informed about research trials regarding the Artifical Pancreas. Our hearts skipped beats in learning it had positive results in well monitored, hospitalized patients. They literally did not have to take insulin. These patients could sleep well through the night without setting an alarm to get checked or worry about not ever waking up! Our son has long been approved as a possible recipient of the Artifical Pancreas here in St. Louis. We’re still praying this day will come. It seems to be coming closer, don’t you think? Blessings to all who live with type 1 diabetes together with their families who love and support them each and every day.

Openhearted Rebel

By Julie Fidler, Natural Society

Life is about to get easier for people with Type 1 diabetes, now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new automated insulin delivery system.

In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas makes little or no insulin, so patients must inject themselves multiple times a day with insulin, or use an insulin pump. It can be easy to inject too much or too little of the hormone, depending on what and how much a person eats, and if they exercise. [1]

High levels of blood glucose (sugar) can lead to organ damage, but injecting too much insulin can lead to a dramatic sugar drop that can cause unconsciousness or coma. [1]

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A Few of My Favorite Things


There’s something to be said about downsizing. Purging through all worldly goods in order to make room for a smaller space. Not long ago, I went through it, and although not easy, it actually felt good in the end. If I didn’t absolutely love something or need it, PLOP, it was dropped into one of three boxes: selldonate or garbage.

This morning, I sipped a warm café latte from a painted cup of cream decorated in dusty roses woven in stems with muted green leaves. A matching bread plate sat in front of me holding a freshly toasted English muffin that called my name. “Come closer…nibble away….” Nearby, a shiny teaspoon of silver rested upon the cup’s saucer, while a butter knife in a flowered pattern of the same shined in rays of early morning sun.

The dishes were my mother’s, passed down to me after she died nearly six years ago. Afterward, I proudly displayed them in a packed china cabinet where they were used only once or twice a year during the holiday seasons. The silver was a wedding gift, over thirty years ago. I’ve used it perhaps twice a year, again, during the holidays.

In sorting through my life, I found a few of my favorite things simply put away, or saved… having chosen other items to use in their place. Why? What was I saving them for? When was the right time, if not now? Prior to my move, an estate sale was held where everything imaginable was sold, except a few of my favorite things…those that I had been saving. Downsizing opened my eyes to using and enjoying my favorite things. No longer do I save them for someday in the future that may never come to be.

Now in my smaller home, I use my mother’s dishes each and every day, including my wedding gift of good silverware. I’m creating new memories while bringing back some of the old. My mother’s dishes will forever trigger warm and loving thoughts of food and family around her Arizona table of solid oak. One day, my grand-babies will learn about their great-grandmother, of how much she would have loved them, and about the dishes they are spooning from. And too, about the very spoons themselves, those that are now clutched in chubby hands while dropping green peas or dribbling applesauce down wee chins.

Yes, there’s something to be said about downsizing. Use and enjoy your favorite things today, don’t save them for tomorrow.

 

moms-dishes

More to The Eye Than Black and White…..


She waddled a bit, her growing tummy leading the way. A black and white striped shirt stretched snug across the whole of her belly. Two rambunctious little ones, one with curls flailing to her shoulders, the other a tow-headed toddler of two leading the way to our finished lower level. There, near a fireplace waiting for short winter days, a tea party danced amid pink plastic china with baskets of assorted delights.

Raggedy Ann sat at the head of the scuffed green table where paint had peeled long ago, revealing a thick strong base of walnut brown. Mismatched chairs parked around the sides. Raggedy Andy sat in one, I in another and Toe Head to my right. Grandpa was finishing final computer work at a long table nearby while the belly rested in a plump corduroy sofa.

Soon, the doorbell sounded. Doodle dog barked while all chaos rang out. My son bounced down the stairway with his usual happy face, tossing kids in the air before kissing the belly of stretched stripes. Just then a wave of motion began with movements to the left, slightly up before swinging down. We could all see it.

Yes, there was a baby under the black and white stripes. Deep within my daughter-in-law’s tummy, not far under her heart of beating pink, she carried a mother’s love who had already become part of a family. A great big family…..

A few minutes later my younger daughter-in-law drove up with “Babies of Two” plus their older sister of three. Together, we all went out for an early dinner in a restaurant very much prepared for children of all ages. We needed three high chairs and a booster seat. To my left, a little lady of four-years-old, shared baskets of chicken strips, sides of mixed fruit or small bowls of macaroni & cheese.

Looking around the table, I caught sight of my husband, who sat at the opposite end.  I smiled, grasping the fact that WE began this great big family. For years and years, we were a small family of four, having only two sons. Eventually, they grew up and married, giving us the gift of daughters-in-law. Four became six. And, before I could blink an eye, grandbabies arrived, growing our family to eleven. Yes, you read that right…ELEVEN!!! This year, before the end of it, our family will have grown yet again with the arrival of tiny angel wings swaddled under blankets of flannel for me to rock around the Christmas tree.

By then my husband and I will have six grandchildren. All little ones, ages, 4, 3, 2, plus twins who turn 2 years old in December, and the new baby who will arrive about the same time.

Heaven sent from under stripes of black and white.

 

*striped shirt picture courtesy of Google Chrome

“My Angel”


My father lost his beloved wife, Eileen on Monday evening after a four-month battle with cancer.

About two weeks ago, I was able to speak to her over the phone. “Your father has been my angel,” she said.

Last evening, again on the telephone, my father asked for my help in preparing Eileen’s memorial brochure for the funeral service. Even though I’ll be in Phoenix later today, he needed to get started on the information immediately. So, I sent him a photograph that I took last year at 5:30 in the morning while visiting the two of them.

As I forwarded the photo on to my father, I mentioned to him that it might be appropriate for someplace in Eileen’s memorial. I remember how she loved it so.  To me, it symbolizes Heaven, with the clouds above appearing to look like angel wings. My father agreed.

“I called her my Angel,” he cried through tears.

How ironic. Two Angels. One on earth and now one in Heaven above.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you…

Philippians 1:3