Mom. You taught me how to be a mom. Memories and thoughts of you….as a child , waking early to peek at you reading your Bible, not wanting to interrupt your private time with God as you started your day; smelling your fantastic Chili Sauce down the street as I walked home from school in the fall; Mon and Thurs, laundry days, Friday Dust and vacuum, Monday and Wed… bathroom and kitchen; summer sausage and cracker lunches in the car on our summer vacations; teaching me to knit; pioneer girls; making mittens for the Russell girls at Christmas; baking Cinnamon Rolls (aka Sticky Buns) with grandma Paulsen; taking the train to Chicago; going by bus to Hudson’s in Detroit to shop for school; you showed me what it’s like to love your husband; you taught me how to “give” selflessly; you taught me the beauty of being a grandma to the point of making us move to Portland (!); you taught me that God loves me and to follow His plan for my life! All these things I tried to teach my kids and hope to teach our grands! Love you mom!
A new perspective…..
So often we see the same things every day. We do things the same every day…..but sometimes we need to see them from a new perspective: through someone else’s eyes, walk a different way, turn around and look back, or raise your eyes and look forward. It will keep life interesting and you may see something new!
It was a beautiful day, Jim was laying in the hammock as I swept out the dust on the floor of the empty house one last time as we waited for a friend to come with a truck to pick up our King sized bed. Once that was done, I turned the key in the door one last time and got in the car!
Four years ago today (now 6 as I post this), we started a journey that would change our lives forever. It was hard, scary, exciting, and potentially fulfilling.
We left a lifetime network of friends and relationships, fantastic organizations where we worked, worshipped and played, and a lovely home in a great city and state.
Portland is where our family is, and now our home with new friends and places to “work”, worship and play! I wouldn’t trade it for the world, being able to drop everything to watch Benjamin play soccer, or to hold Lilia as she clings to me after pinching her fingers in the piano (get that? I get to teach her piano!), and grab a quick bite, or accompany an art field trip with Amy!
I do miss our old life and friends, but am so thankful for Facebook and friends who will travel to visit us! And…I love sharing this beautiful part of our country that I can now call home!
Written in 2017:
Our move out west will always be a bittersweet one. We left Michigan not knowing how much longer mom would be here on earth. We left friends, family and activities that we had loved and offered stability and comfort. We were heading into unknown territory and an unknown future. Would we find friends? Things to do? What would Holidays be like? What would our daily lives look like?
That was almost 4 years ago. After putting all things in God’s hands, He knew what was best for us! Within one week of arriving, mom went to be with Jesus! What a blessing! She was free from her body which imprisoned her physically and mentally! While it was difficult to arrive in Oregon, then immediately return to Michigan to say our goodbyes, it freed us to move forward to our future. God knew what was best!
We have a community now where we can get involved in music, golf, maybe croquet this spring, and fantastic neighbors! We have found a church we love, and can participate in choir and Jim in a mens’ group! We are able to be a part of our kids’ and grandkids’ lives, be close for impromptu gatherings… and watch them grow! We have a temperate climate that is easy on our bodies!
We are coming up on the 4th anniversary of our move, and mom’s passing! Life is good!….. uh no….GREAT!
The Dollhouse Story, with Amy Stewart!
Once upon a time, there was an 11 year old girl who didn’t want us to sell her house and move to Grosse Pointe Park from St Clair Shores! She set out on a mission to keep her parents from selling their house, like flushing the toilets constantly so we couldn’t afford the water bill, turning on all the lights so we couldn’t afford the electricity bill, and packing her entire closet to “move” to grandma’s house so she would “show us” she wasn’t moving with us! (She unpacked, tho, when it was time for dinner!).
Then, one day in Royal Oak, her momma found this antique doll house that needed a lot of attention, bought it and hid it until moving day (somehow sneaking it into the basement of the new house 🏡 ). All the while tell the 11 yo there was a HUGE surprise for her at the new house! She was SO excited she couldn’t wait for us to close on the house! When we got the keys, she grabbed them and said, “I will be the one to unlock the door when we get there!”
After her excitement of the discovery, the FIRST thing we HAD to do, of course, was go to Ace Hardware and buy paint, and paint it on the picnic table out back, while the moving van and men were moving us in!! Priorities, of course!
The END of the story: the Dollhouse moved with us to Portland, but is no longer a member of the Stewart family. There was no room for her in anyone’s house. And no little girl at that time, to enjoy it. I hope someone’s little girl is decorating it and playing with it happily, because we now have a little girl who I know would love it.
Yesterday, we celebrated the anniversary of our daughter’s entry into the world, where she showed us her strength and determination to come 3 weeks early on her brother’s 2nd birthday, fighting the odds….breach, back labored and early! Today, that same strength, motivation and determination saved a small dog’s life.
She was walking her dogs through a woods to the Sandy River where they’ve walked many times, and came upon a situation where a small dog had slipped off the 10-12 feet of ice along the shore into the river. The dog’s owner was already suffering hypothermia from trying to save the dog to no avail. Amy began hammering the ice with a large stick/small log for 20 some minutes trying to break a way. It didn’t look like it would break so she began pushing the ice away. Eventually, weakened by the hammering and pushing, it broke apart making way for the small dog to swim back to shore. Poor thing couldn’t stand up. Amy, along with some bystanders, wrapped him in jackets and began rubbing him to warm him. She told the owner to run back to the car and get it warmed up, as he was pretty much in shock and not thinking straight. Then she ran holding the dog back to the car. Her dogs, thankfully, did not venture out into the water – Blue watched wondering how he could help, and Koda just wanted to play with the stick!
Before she left, she saw the dog stand up in the car and shake it off! She said…mom, I could not watch a dog die. I had to save him! That’s my girl! And…lucky dog!
I’m thankful today for my beautiful, creative, fun and lovable daughter Amy Stewart. She’s always been a free spirit and so very different from me, which makes her so delightful! She will try anything and her sense of adventure is unending. She throws herself fully into everything she does. After not celebrating Thanksgiving together for so many years, she has created her own tradition including her many friends who are also “Family-less”! It’s not a surprise that she and JF hosted a wonderful Thanksgiving Day yesterday, starting with soccer warmups in the backyard, a football game in the park, warming up to mulled wine after and then a Fried vs Roasted Turkey Cook-Off. We were exhausted after dinner so we missed the bonfire and desserts and music! Thank you,Amy, for staying in town and making our first thanksgiving in Portland wonderful. (She even brought tears to my eyes setting her (my mom’s) dining room table with mom’s tablecloth, butter dish, song bird plates and antique gravy pitcher). I thank God for you everyday, and for allowing us to live close now. 💞
Many of my friends may not know that this young man is the reason we live in Portland. He is the reason our grandkids were born here. He is the reason our son, Jonathan, moved here about 20 years ago. He is the reason Amy moved here shortly after. If it wasn’t for his deep friendship with Jon, we all wouldn’t be in the Pacific Northwest. Kevin Rauch (the Rauch Factor!) and Jon were best friends since High School, roommates in college at Western Michigan University sharing not only their rooms, but also their degrees! Both had a Bachelors Degree in Field Hydro Geolology. Kevin and Jeanean moved here, Jon visited them, then settled here shortly after. The rest is history. Kevin also was instrumental in getting both our kids to Rock Climb, which is where his first symptoms of ALS were made apparent. Kevin leaves behind his wonderful wife , Jeanean and son, Andrew, who we are happy to have the title of surrogate-PNW grandparents! His own grandparents, Tom & Judy Rauch, live in Michigan. We are so proud of how Jeanean keeps his dad alive for him and how he honors his father daily. He is an extremely gifted young man and loves music, singing and acting! If it weren’t for Kevin, I wonder where we would be?
I have always had a Bittersweet, Love/Hate relationship with Fall. The warm colors of the leaves, Sunflowers, crisp, clear air, gorgeous blue skies and clouds draw me in like a warm comforter. .I remember the aromas of Cabbage Rolls and Chili Sauce as I walked home from school…. a block away from our house as mom would be cooking from the fall harvest for us, the family she loved! Oh, and let me not forget her Apple Crisp, the traditional fall dessert that I will keep making, hoping to instill sweet fall aromatic, culinary memories in my kids and grands! That’s the Sweet of Bittersweet!
The bitter part comes with the proclamation that summer has ended, and winter is ahead: my favorite season being wiped out by my least favorite. With it comes endless hours of football on tv (tho when it’s UM, I don’t mind!), cloudy skies and rain, staying indoors a lot (for a sun worshipper, that’s the toughest one!). But I’ll have to admit, going to the Pumpkin Patch with Lilia’s Kindergarten class, Saturday’s at the Farm Markets with all the fall bounty, and day trips to wine country is bound to lift my spirits! As well, a trip to the “canyons and Vegas in November, a possible trip to somewhere warm in mid winter, the fact that Portland is beautiful even in the rain…and sometimes, especially in the rain, the celebration of Thanksgiving and Christmas with family….will all make the gray skies disappear, and the forecast of a Spring and another Summer Season will get me through! Happy Fall, and I’m reminding myself to find and enjoy the beauty of it all while it’s here!
This day…right now….is why I am here! What is happening with you right now? Does it describe why you are where you are…and what you’re doing, and what your purpose is?
Amy and John just left our home after a delightful, spontaneous dinner, on their way home from the beach to pick up her car! Which was here because I spent two days with her, Sophie and her dogs at Cape Lookout, then drove it home! (Longer story!) We had such a lovely time at the beach, the dogs ran circles around each other as the sun set on the beach and a fantastic seafood dinner together as well.
This morning, we met Jon to deliver Lilia after a spontaneous sleepover where I got to do mani/pedis with her, dance at a concert with her, take her to the library, go swimming – and play nonstop at our home for the previous precious 24 hours!
If we still lived in Michigan, none of this would have happened! The moments with family, the new community of friends, the brief moments shared with Amy and Mary, my neighbor, who together share more than you would think a 93yo and 42yo would!
I feel so content, just knowing that I am where I need to be….this day….this moment….right now!