Simple Words of Strength

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My husband Richard passed away three years ago tonight, but I find myself celebrating in a way.

Sure his life was cut too short, and his early onset dementia was cruel, yet most of his days were good ones.

It seems Richard knew how to live well.

His life was never a rich one monetarily, but it was in experiences, accomplishments, and in his work with the arts community.

Richard also knew how to laugh.

A lot.

And mostly, at himself.

The first time I met Richard at a dinner party, he was already making the others guests hysterical while describing a crazy New Year’s Eve just spent with an elderly aunt in Boston.

And Richard would always be the first to chuckle at the graduate school pictures of himself from the 70’s with his long brown hair, skinny torso, and Barnaby Street bell bottom suits.

By the time I met him a decade later at the party, he was sporting instead a marine cut, balding white hair, and a slight Santa pot belly masked under preppy flannels.

I believe I admired most Richard’s ability to share his loving heart with others.

And often to those with the greatest need.

Richard was the first to mention the idea of adopting a very special 12 year old girl from Russia. And did he ever LOVE to spoil this girl after our adoption was finalized and we all came back together to the U.S.

That special girl grew to become one very special lady. She, along with her young family, came over today for a belated Christmas celebration.

We had a joyful time dancing in our family room and I hadn’t thought about today’s anniversary until she pulled out one of Richard’s old graduate school photos from her purse. I then glanced briefly at some later photos of Richard on the book shelves behind her and smiled.

Perhaps in this last week of 2016, I should now be thinking about jotting down my resolutions for the new year.

Like lose that extra ten pounds or find the best job ever.

But I don’t really need too.

I’ve just realized my resolutions have been right here behind me in my family room, and in bold, ever since I down sized into my new home.

Just three short words can say it all, and I will practice them every day.

“Live, laugh, love.”

Sounds like a whole lot more fun than going on a diet.

And after all, life is just too short.

Black Friday or Blue?

I finished the bulk of my holiday shopping on election night in a small quiet store near my home.

I desperately needed a diversion.

Then on Black Friday I rose early and mailed those gifts to friends and family from an empty post office.

The peace was almost deafening.

On Small Business Saturday, my chi pup Rex and I walked the sunny beach at the lake and climbed the short ladder to the life guard station.

Luckily no one needed our help as we had a little business of our own to take care of.

I’d brought a small stack of holiday cards up there to pen as we kept an eye on a couple of fishing boats off in the distance.

After a while, we climbed back down and followed our noses over to a blazing bonfire by the trolley tracks.

Santa was already there, greeting all in line for their rides on an old wreath adorned golden trolley.

Rex and I opted instead for one hot chocolate, laced with small marshmallows and a s’more cooked to order by a smiling Boy Scout nearby. Both were being sold as part of his troops’s fundraiser.

Rex appeared to love his first sweet graham cracker.

And I loved my avoidance of stores this weekend even more I thought while licking every bite of chocolate off my fingers.

It seems a break in tradition can be quite delicious.

Happy Birthday, Dog

I celebrated my birthday last night with a can of Chef Boyardee.

Well, sort of.

Actually I’d gotten my real celebrating done early since I heard a few weeks ago that winter would be arriving on my birthday, which it did.

It’s amazing how the weather folks can nail down their predictions, but not those political prognosticators.

Anyway after scraping ice off my car locks I drove safely back home in snow and a howling wind. I could have picked up chow mein and chocolate cake, but putting the car to bed and grabbing a can from my personal blizzard bistro seemed much more inviting.

I partied briefly with the dogs afterwards, ignoring the big mess of papers on the floor from a bag of recycling I’d forgotten to take out in the morning. My terrier Tucker had been particularly tense and had torn them all up into tiny pieces.

It seemed the screen door near Tuck’s crate in the kitchen had been banging for hours from the 50 mph wind gusts.

We all decided to try to turn in early to stay warm, even though we knew it could be a restless one.

This morning still hearing those high winds and feeling a draft in the house my spirits sank some.

I got down on my hands and knees finally picking up the tiny bits of paper I’d ignored that were now lodged into the back of Tuck’s dog crate.

Looking out the window, I was blue looking up at the gray sky and the return of a frozen white landscape.

And I was likely blue as well from missing my big brother Scott whose birthday was today.

Being just one day shy of two years apart, we typically celebrated together until he passed away unexpectedly some years ago.

Scott was experiencing a few challenges right before he left us, but I’ve been reminded by my sister that he’d begun work on making changes in his life and “he’d even gotten a dog.”

‘Dog’ had always been Scott’s nickname.

And he loved every one of them.

As I was about to finish cleaning the crate, Tucker walked over and licked my hand just as the old Bing Crosby holiday song, “Counting My Blessings” began to play on NPR.

Suddenly a picture from a stack of old photos resting on a shelf in my kitchen slid down towards the floor.

As the rest of my canine crew trotted over my way, I picked up the photo.

I saw it was a picture of Scott and myself with a big birthday cake.

And I’m thinking it’s from the last celebration we shared.

“Happy Birthday, Dog!” I said softly walking out the door into the day with my little pack of blessings on leashes.

All was calm and the sun was bright once again.

And that’s another blessing for sure I thought, as I made myself a snow angel.