Tuesday, September 28, 2010

For My Grandpa

I was fairly convinced my Grandpa Don would live to the grand age of 100. My son, just days ago and out of the blue, prayed that his Great-Grandpa would live to claim that century-old mark.

He had struggled over the past few years. Throughout his lifetime, he was an avid walker … literally logging multiple miles per day well into his 80s. When his legs started getting weaker and tripping became more common, he reluctantly gave up his outdoor walks and purchased a treadmill. Eventually, even that became too much for his legs.

This last July, he turned 94. In the days before that life achievement, he had reluctantly moved into a retirement home, selling the house that he had built with his wife and lived in for 60 years. My Grandma passed away 18 years of days ago. He missed her terribly every one of those days. I suspect he stayed in that house for so long because so many memories of grandma still existed there.

He was a sweet, kind, generous, wise, and unassuming man. His smile lit up his face. He adored and admired each and every one of his 3 daughters and sons-in law, 11 grandchildren and their spouses, and 24 (and counting) great-grandchildren.

For several summers in a row, in my pre-teen years, he and grandma would take my sister, Heidi, and I on long road trips, fifth-wheel trailer in tow, visiting wonderful sites in the western United States and Canada. To this day, they are some of my fondest memories of Grandpa. And, they were his too. Being in his 90s seemed to make those memories even sharper for him, and he would ask, “Kelly, do you remember the trips we used to take?” And, then, we would proceed to laugh about the time we saw the baby bear in a campground, or the time we waited out a tornado warning, or our regular requests from Grandma for ‘just a smidge’ of ice cream … which was code for ‘lots of ice cream in a huge bowl’.

When I picked up my daughter from school today, I told her that her great-grandpa Don had gone to heaven this morning. “That makes me so sad,” she said softly, but then pepped up when we started talking about him being in heaven with the Grandma she never knew.

As we were driving to daycare, she asked, “Mommy, are you crying?” “Yes, sweetie … Mommy’s a little sad right now,” I responded. “Would you like a hug when we get to Judy’s (daycare)?” she asked gently. “Yes, that would be very nice,” I said with a smile.

Both my children adored their Grandpa Don. My daughter, though, had an amazing connection with him that started when she was just a toddler. She seemed to gravitate to him … wanting to be near him … even in the midst of Christmas gifts and cousins, she always made her way to where he was sitting, either to help him unwrap a gift or sit on his lap.

One of their last memories of him will be when we visited his new apartment at the retirement home. My son thought the miniature version of a house that Grandpa was now living in was so very cool. And, my daughter got the pleasure of riding on the seat of Great-Grandpa’s walker as he pushed her around the first floor of the building.

I am thankful for the time my children had with him.

I am thankful for the time my husband knew him … he adored my husband.

I am thankful for all the wonderful memories I have of him.

I am thankful he lived a long, mostly healthy 94 years. I am sad that it ended with a fall that injured his head and brain in a way that he couldn’t recover. I am sad that he was in pain during his last couple days. But, I am thankful that the pain didn’t last any longer.

I am sad that he is not here on earth with us anymore. But, I am thankful that he is now in heaven, enjoying a beautiful, long-awaited reunion with his beloved wife.

I will miss him terribly.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Summer Into Fall

I adore autumn. There is something about the crisp, coolness of the air, the vivid leaf colors, the comforting smells of cinnamon and spice, and the anticipation of the upcoming holidays that has always won autumn the title of 'favorite season' for me.

One of my favorite signals that fall is approaching are our Crape Myrtles. They are gorgeous year-round, whether it be their leaves or their bark, but ... from late summer into fall, they are stunning show-stoppers.

As the rest of the garden is withering into a state of brownness, these beautiful plants are in their prime, with an eye-catching show of berry-like buds that transform into colorful, popcorn-like blooms.

In my opinion, they are a perfectly cheerful way to close out the summer months and add an additional pop of unexpected color in the fall. And, really ... who couldn't use that?!

~ Happy Autumn ~

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


(Click on picture to view larger)

An amazing display at sunset.

The Vaux's Swift birds migrate south each fall. The chimney of Chapman School in North Portland has been their chosen September roosting place since the 1980s. Each night, at sunset, thousands of the little birds make their way into the chimney to rest for the night.

Last night's display featured a predator ... knowing the sun was setting, waiting atop the chimney for its prey. After seemingly watching from above and waiting for the predator to leave, one little swift succumbed to the much bigger bird, so that his friends could make their way into the chimney for a night of rest.

As their name would imply, they are quite the little aerialists ... always in constant, swirling motion. At times, their flight patterns seemed to take on the shape of cylinders, as they prepared to dive into the chimney. Controlled and chaotic, all at once. Another miracle of nature.