My mom and siblings are in California. My grown up children are in Illinois and Wisconsin. It’s difficult to get together very often, and I miss them all tremendously. This summer, I started a photo sharing project on this blog in order to review my memories and convert my snapshots into digital format that everyone could copy and store. It’s taken a lot of screen time and yielded some powerful emotions. In the last installment, I posted photos from 2007 which included my daughters’ graduations and our last family reunion at the beach cottage in Michigan. My husband was quite ill. In January of 2008, the day before our 24th wedding anniversary, I treated myself to a trip to our Cancun timeshare resort with my oldest daughter and my brother.
Jim was not up to international travel, but did end up going to the East Coast to visit his sister and his nephews. A couple of weeks later, he was having another heart surgery. Ten days after returning home from the hospital, he died in his sleep beside me. My mother flew out immediately to help me cope with logistics, and we planned a memorial celebration to take place three weeks later. I gathered family groups around the piano in the living room for photographs that afternoon. Here’s the Heigho bloodline:I was very sorry to see my mom and siblings board the plane for their return flight and my son and middle daughter return to college shortly after the ceremony. I was not looking forward to a painfully empty nest. My youngest daughter and I went out to California in August for my birthday…and Jim’s. I revisited the places where we met, fell in love, and were married. I felt like one small fraction of a person; being with the people who knew me longest and best helped.
Emily, my mom and I also took a tour of the Winchester Mystery House. It was the first time I’d been inside. Who knew it’d figure in our family history seven years later…?
We made plans to return the next summer to lay Jim’s ashes to rest in the garden columbarium outside the church where we were married and where my sister’s ashes rested as well. What I had no way of knowing then was that I would return the next year with a special traveling companion so that I could introduce him to my mother…
Today is the tenth anniversary of my husband’s last birthday. I guess that’s just a confusing way to say that if he hadn’t died, he would be 57 years old today. I’m reblogging the first post I did for him, six years ago. Feel free to add more favorite memories, if you have them.
In the Galasso family, we have a birthday tradition. When we are all gathered together for the birthday meal, we go around the table, and each person relates his or her favorite memory of the birthday person. When I was with Emily last Sunday, she wouldn’t let me leave until she had told me her favorite memory of me. I had almost forgotten this ritual, and I’m so glad she didn’t. Today would have been Jim’s 51st birthday. We would be celebrating our combined 100th birthday. (We went to a couple’s 100th birthday party once…huge affair with fireworks and everything!) Well, in Thich Nhat Hahn’s words, it is another Continuation Day. Jim continues in all kinds of ways on this earth. Ripples of his deeds, his attitude, his progeny, his molecules and other whatnot are still around.
So here is a favorite memory of Jim that came to me on…
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I’ve been posting snapshots from years past to this blog to create an online family photo album for my mom and siblings in California and my kids in the Midwest. I’ve gone from 1985-2006 in 15 posts. I’ve gone through all my photo books and boxes of loose prints, and I think I’ve gotten all the best ones converted to digital images.
I did come across a couple that I want to add here, even though they’re out of sequence. These are pictures of my kids in places of historical significance to our family, proving that I did teach them something about our particular “heritage”. For instance, this sacred natural place just blocks from the first house I lived in…
…and this one of the beach where 4 generations of our family have vacationed… …and where my husband and I met up with my parents’ longtime friends.
Now, back to the chronology. In January of 2007, I took a trip out to California alone to visit the family. Things were pretty hectic back in the Midwest with two kids in college, two in high school, and a husband on kidney dialysis. Escaping to the Bay Area to soak up some family love and laughter (and a couple of bottles of Hecker Pass kissing wine!) helped.
Visiting my father was a high priority, even though he did not remember or respond to me.
Watching my mother care for him was a great lesson to me. I figured I’d be walking in her footsteps as a caretaker for my ailing husband, but I had no way of knowing that I’d be widowed the next year.
Before that happened, we had a few more exciting family events. In April, Emily starred in Seussical. Her Aunt Maggie and cousins James and Dylan from her dad’s side of the family flew out to see the show.
In June, Rebecca graduated from High School and Susan gave her Senior Voice Recital and got her college diploma from Lawrence University.
GranneLouise, Uncle David, and Aunt Sarah came out for the ceremony in Wisconsin and then drove to meet us for a reunion at the beach cottage on the other side of Lake Michigan.
That final vacation with my husband is full of bittersweet memories. I’m so grateful that both my families were there to share it with me and to remind me that we were together in all of the simultaneous beginnings and endings of that summer.
Standing on the corner…is this a familiar corner? Or are you just passing through this place, this place in time and history? Where are you headed? Straight on? Or will you decide to turn? Which way? Right? Left? Or a complete turn-about?
So many decisions, choices that could lead to adventure or conflict or character change.
Whatever corner of the world, whatever corner of your life journey you find yourself standing at…I wish you happiness and peace.
This online family photo history series has covered twenty years of cross-country grandparenting. My mother, siblings, nieces and nephew in California and my children in the Midwest were fortunate to have shared many visits and forged lifetime bonds and memories. In the years following 2005, life threw some more challenges our way.
Grandpa George was showing more signs of dementia. Jim had numerous health issues and complications associated with his diabetes and coronary artery disease. The kids were bigger, and their challenges were bigger, too. School and extra-curricular activities, social issues, and mental health demanded constant attention and problem-solving. The stress in our teenagers’ lives was real and complex.
With all that on the landscape, we didn’t do a lot of traveling together. I did get out to California some time around Christmas in 2006.
Some time during this visit, I got the opportunity to tag along with my mom while she did a performance with her living history group, Portraits of the Past. I loved seeing her involved in an activity that incorporated so many of her interests and talents.
My mom is a great example to me of blending responsibility, entertainment, learning, and joy. The most difficult challenges in life are opportunities to grow, and Mom is a model of continual personal growth.
Today is the 55th anniversary of my birth. I am well aware that this milestone is being eclipsed by an even more remarkable celestial event, but this post is not about that. It’s all about the reasons I started blogging six years ago at the beginning of my 50th year: Death, Nature, and the Meaning of It All. I thought it was pretty good even though it got exactly zero “likes”. I had no followers back then. So I’m reblogging it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his essay on Nature in 1836:
“Nature never wears a mean appearance. Neither does the wisest man extort all her secret, and lose his curiosity by finding out all her perfection. Nature never became a toy to a wise spirit. The flowers, the animals, the mountains, reflected all the wisdom of his best hour, as much as they had delighted the simplicity of his childhood…The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood….Standing on the bare ground, –my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball. I am nothing. I see all. The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God…I am the…
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