Monday, June 27, 2011

Reading with Daddy

"Are you sure that's how the story goes?"

"Here, let me show you how to do it!"
"Once upon a time...".

Even when she was a little squirt,
she was pretty sure she knew how things should go!

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Little Bit of Sadness... and a Lot of Happiness

Yesterday I watched as my husband's image was etched on his tombstone.  While the artist was incredibly talented and it was an amazing process...

...this was something I never thought I'd be doing at age thirty-five.

It took a couple of hours, and a myriad of thoughts went through my head as I sat there and watched.  My stomach was in knots and there were times that tears came to my eyes- especially when his mouth and cheeks came into view.  That smirk...I loved that smirk. 

There are a lot of things that I love about who Jim was. 

I loved his blue eyes that would change color according to his mood or what he was wearing.  I always thought they were the prettiest when he wore blue or black- they'd turn the most incredible bright  blue.  I loved his perfectly straight teeth.  He never had braces.  Let's hope Marley got his teeth.  So far so good!   He had the most beautiful hair that I've ever seen on a man.  He looked awesome whether he kept it long or short.   And when it started to fall out from chemo, he first shaved a mohawk (reliving high school days, perhaps??), and then shaved it all off.  He would grow it out in the winter when he was able, but as soon as it got hot outside, out came the clippers.  Few can pull off the bald look like he could!   I loved that bull neck and strong arms and shoulders.  I loved the short fingers and broad hands that could open any jar with ease.  He was a short, stocky guy, but ridiculously strong.  I felt safe and protected when I was with him.  

I loved that he was so slow to get angry.  His laid-back nature was the perfect counterpart to my tendency to want to fly off the handle.  He'd ask me, "Megan, does it really matter?  Is it going to change anything if you...[insert issue here]?  Then what are you worried about?  Either take care of it, or let it go.".  He helped me not to sweat the small stuff.

I loved how he was comfortable with himself.  He didn't care what people thought of him, or me, or us as a couple.  We came from very different backgrounds, and I admit we were an unlikely pair.  But he was perfect for me, and I think I was a good fit for him too.  His attitude was "What you see is what you get.  If you don't like it, it's your loss".   He taught me that changing how you act around different people and changing who you are to make others happy is pointless.   He helped me to learn to be true to myself and not betray being my authentic self. 

I loved how he was a hard worker.  He started working right out of high school, and rarely missed a day for the next twenty years, even if he didn't feel well.  When cancer came into the picture, he would go to radiation in the morning and head to work in the afternoon.  Even when he was really sick, he still worked part-time for a long time.  He wasn't afraid to get sweaty and dirty and tired.  He was proud of his strength and his ability to work hard. 

I loved his tenderness.  Jim wasn't an overly touchy-feely kind of guy.  I rarely heard my actual name come out of his mouth.  It was usually "Sugar" or "Hon".  He knew when I needed his embrace and reassurance.  He was bluntly honest and said whatever came to his head to everyone I knew.  But when it came to me and my family, he was tender and kind.  He would kiss my mom every time we went to visit (and then remind me that she loved him more than me.  Ha!)  and hug every one of them.  When I was upset or weak in spirit he knew how to make me feel better and how to reassure me that it would all be alright.  When friends came to visit us in Michigan he was so happy to have them there, even when he was sick and could barely walk.  Whether we were the ones receiving the visit or the ones making the visit to friends and family in Indiana, he always ended it with a hug and "Love you.". 

I loved how he interacted with his family.  They're an amazing group of people who welcomed me into their family with open arms.  Gatherings with his family were always full of amazing food, countless games of Aggravation or Yahtzee, and hysterical conversation.  I choked on my drink more than once.  Jim's sister Lisa made so many visits to us in Michigan, bringing different family members with her, and we always loved it.   Marley especially loved visits from her uncles "Jonkey" (John) and Vance.  We still enjoy visits with them now, even after Jim has passed. 

I loved his quiet confidence in his salvation and where he was going after this life was over.  He was never one for attending church regularly, and he had very strong opinions about religion in general.  But he was sure of his destination, and he told my sister toward the end that he was not afraid, that it would be alright.  The last words out of his mouth were, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.".  That has been an incredible comfort to me and many others. 

I loved how he wasn't confined by traditional roles for us as man and woman.  We both worked full time when we were first married, and he recognized that though our jobs were very different, we were both tired when we came home.  He split the housework with me 50/50.  He cooked more than half the time, because we both knew he was a better cook, and he liked it whereas  I tend to view it more as a chore.  He didn't even attempt to do laundry, because he couldn't fold a shirt to save his life!  When life changed for him and he was undergoing chemo, he really embraced the role of stay-at-home parent while I worked outside the home.  He used to call himself my "house husband".

I loved how naturally he fell into the role of father.  I'll never forget the vision of him with his shirt pulled up over his nose, gagging, while he changed a newborn Marley's dirty diaper!  Or how one day I was in the other room while he was again changing her when I heard a horrified, "Oh my GOD, Megan, get in here!!!".  I ran into the room, and found him bug-eyed, looking first at Marley, then to the poop that had shot out when he opened her diaper and hit the wall, then at me.  We both learned that day about how infants can project terrible things amazing distances.  :)  Marley was his shining light.  He loved her so much and so loved just being in her company.  When she was a baby, he would tell me- "Now come here and teach me how to do this.  I've never taken care of a baby or a girl, and I need to know the right way.".  As she got older, he was more comfortable with caring for her.  He'd take her to the park many days for lunch and play while I was at work.  In fact, he took her with him almost everywhere, even when I was home.  I think he loved the smiles and comments they got as they were out and about.  They would sit and chat like grownups.  He bought her toys and then would lay down on the floor and play with her.  He was a natural.

I could go on and on about the things I loved about Jim.  I hope this post will help you, the reader, to remember the good things (or get to know him better).  And I hope that someday when Marley reads it she will be reminded of the wonderful Daddy she has. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Happy Birthday, Marley!

Happy Birthday, pretty girl!

Today you turn three!

This has been an amazing year for you.  As I was looking back over the pictures from the last year, I was amazed by how much you've grown.   
You weigh about 30 pounds now and you're just a little over three feet tall. 
You've had a very busy year! 

During the winter you loved wearing the stocking cap that Daddy picked out for you, along with your jammies and my necklaces.  Quite the fashionista!
You also liked to keep Daddy company when he was outside shoveling.

And you looked like a little pink snowman all bundled up in your winter gear!

But once springtime came, you want to be outside all the time~

without your shoes!
You also became a big fan of sunglasses. 

You enjoyed playing with Daddy when he was feeling good.

Daddy turned 40 this year, and we had a big party.  You got a kick out of "helping" him blow out the candles on his favorite birthday cake- jello cake.  He even tried on your Easter hat that we had picked out for you!

When the weather got hot, Daddy went and got a swimming pool for the two of you to play in.  You spent a lot of time there as summer flew by.

You also liked to splash Eddie.  (Lily was smart enough to stay a safe distance away!)

I took this video because you were so cute with your potbelly, outie bellybutton, and chubby legs.  The camera shakes because I was laughing at your antics.

You were so intent on what you were doing- concentrating and thinking so hard!  But you had such a bumpy way of running that most of the water never made it to where you were going. 

Fourth of July was a great day.  We met some friends outside Daddy's old work to wait for the fireworks. 

You and Landon had a great time playing with your glow sticks and sparklers, which you were sure you could blow out.  You LOVED the fireworks!  The booms didn't even bother you.

Summer was full of great times with family...

...and friends.

You got to ride ponies a couple of times this year- at the Hillsdale Library's summer program
 and when we went to the fair in the fall.

You got your first "real" haircut at a salon.   

And we visited a pumpkin patch, where we all picked out pumpkins to paint.

That fall, you had a great time playing in the leaves.

And for Halloween you were the most adorable kitty cat in town!

Mommy turned 35 this year, and we had a pretty low-key evening, since Mama had worked all day and Daddy wasn't feeling too well.

Around Thanksgiving time, Daddy spent four days in the hospital, but he got out in time to head down to Aunt Lisa's house for Thanksgiving dinner.

At Christmas time, you helped me decorate the tree,
We had a wonderful, perfect Christmas day, filled with fun and relaxing.

All in all, you've had a great year.  We've implemented Time Out, because your will is as strong as iron (I admit that you came by this honestly!).  I pray that God will help me to form and mold that strong will into one of your greatest strengths someday, as you will need great inner strength and initiative to get along well as a young woman when you're all grown up. 

This year it's been so fun to watch you learn to run.  Your giggle is delightful and your grin is contagious to everyone around you.  One of my fondest memories of your grin is the week that we spent with Grammy and Daddy at the Cancer Center in Chicago.  You were one of the few children there, and you made so many people smile that week.  Your wave and cheery "Hewwo!" caused much delight as you skipped and galloped your way down the halls.  You were also highly enamored with elevators, loudly cautioning everyone around you to step back while you waited for the doors to open "jus' in case somebody is comin' out". 

Daddy has been working with you on letters and numbers, and I'm blown away every time you pipe up and tell me the name of a letter or its sound.  There's so much going on in your little brain!  You also can count to 10 in English and Spanish.  Speaking of Spanish, Dora the Explorer is one of your favorite shows.  You and Daddy spent a lot of evenings snuggled up in bed watching Dora, Max & Ruby, Yo Gabba Gabba, and Curious George.  You love to sing Zaccheus was a Wee Little Man, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Five Little Monkeys.

Here are some of my favorite photos of you...



...and smiling that beautiful SMILE!!

Happy Birthday, Peanut!
I love you!