A Glance Back in Time

Recently I ran across this little letter I wrote my grandma back when we we had just moved to California (again). I thought it was worth sharing since I apparently have not made time to keep up with my blog this year.....it kind of feels like I am running about 8 years behind so this is fitting. 

May 29, 2007

Dear Grandma, 

I am sorry it has been so long since I last wrote…I am beginning to sound like a broken record. Anyway, we are finally getting settled here in CA. It is a beautiful state, to which I’m highly allergic! I have been sneezing and stuffy since our arrival a month ago. Ugh! Hard to enjoy perfect weather when your eyes are red and puffy from the itching! Oh well. Such is life. 

We have started to make some new friends, a big feat these days it seems and we have been going fairly regularly to the Methodist Church right down the street. It is an unusual church, well, let's just say it's not as traditional as some, but it seems like a good demographic mix and it is the closet church to us, a big plus. We had tried a different UMC nearby, one located in the retirement community up the hill, and I almost had to up and leave about 20 minutes into it. I don’t think there were more than a handful of us under the age of 75, not a big surprise in a retirement community obviously but then the pastor got up to do a “centering” prayer and he began by saying, “breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out,” real slowly and I thought to myself, “I suppose in this church you have to remind people to do that,” and of course I started to laugh and laugh and I had to lean forward to suppress my tickle and try to hide the fact that I was giggling so hard and Kurt leaned over to ask if I was laughing or crying, hard to tell since I had teary eyes at that point but I was glad because I figured, if Kurt can’t tell, then perhaps no one else noticed…at any rate, I don’t think that will be the church for us. We’ll stick to the one closer to home and deal with the fact that the minister almost seems more like an old school priest than a Methodist preacher. Whatever though. You have to pick your battles and just because I feel like getting up and debating him on what John Wesley would’ve changed about his sermons, doesn’t mean it isn’t a good church…just an unusual take on the Methodist faith. And the pastoral intern, I know he says he comes from the Presbyterian tradition, but both Kurt and I would’ve guessed he grew up in a Jewish home. Nothing wrong with that of course but, anyway, it all seems to keep us engaged I suppose. 

So, I am sorry I couldn’t include any recent pictures. I have a lot of new pics on my very full camera but somehow in the move I misplaced the connection so I can’t upload anything into my computer. I have to figure out where to take the camera to get the information off of it…a much bigger deal with 3 kids. But, rest assured, as soon as I get some new photos printed, I will send them your way. 

I am guessing by now mom has told you we are expecting our 4th child. We just found out so it is still very early in the game. But, if everything works out, the baby will be born at the end of January, or something like that. I had not planned on being pregnant for my 30th birthday but, alas, God had other plans (and we were obviously not very careful) so, here we are. Somehow, it seems a little more stressful and a little less exciting this go around. 

Our house is quite lovely, although much smaller than our Midwestern home. We have snuggled in though and will be staying put for at least a couple of years. Kurt loves his new job so far but isn’t as fond of CA. There is something different about the way people interact here. Everyone is so individualistic, like an “every man for himself” type of feeling that doesn’t make you feel very connected to anyone. We need to give it more time but it isn’t like being in MN where people kind of wrap you up and take you in. No one has stopped by to bring us (the new neighbors) cookies yet but then, that is probably highly unusual these days. We just had GREAT neighbors back in MN. We have yet to sell our home back there so who knows, we may go back and live in the same place. We'll see. 

Well, I have to wrap this up. Lillian is making growling noises from the other room so I had better go check it out. It will soon turn into screeching I am sure…oh, there she blows!

I love you and look forward to seeing you sometime soon. 
Karen Diane

p.s. In the wake of my Grandma Mac’s death, I just wanted to tell you how special you were to her. She felt so indebted to you and your help early in her life. Thank you for being such a gift to her. She loved you very much. 


Tonight's Thoughts

These last couple of weeks and months have been a massive blur. Shortly after Fidgi passed, my good friends lost their son, also 47, to some heart and blood clot issues. Like Fidgi, it was completely out of nowhere. Like Fidgi, it was a total shock.

Truth be told, I didn't really know Christopher very well. He flitted in and out of the scene, occasionally stopping in to see his folks when we were around and once joining us and his parents for a holiday dinner at our home. But I only really knew him from stories and listening to him speak on the phone with his mom when the kids and I happened to be visiting. He was a sharp, eclectic and very private guy, their only child. His loss left us stunned and unsettled. Personally, I just can't make sense of it. I know his parents can't either.

After that horrible week, when he had been fighting to hang on and his parents, in utter dismay, were just trying to cope, I (almost guiltily) took my younger daughter's soccer team to their first tournament together. While I was so pleased with Lily's team, their sweet championship win was but a fleeting victory in light of Fidgi's and Chirstopher's deaths. Don't get me wrong: I am so proud of those kids and not just for winning. I am most proud of how hard they have worked and how much they have overcome to get where they are. When I think of all the good things that can come from youth sports, it is the will and drive to both overcome obstacles and create successes that I most hope these kids walk away with. Sure there are friendships and shared experiences and fun and laughter and physical fitness benefits, and even some tears of sadness and frustration; those harder lessons learned. But recognizing their power to create outcomes, learning to believe in themselves, to see the value in helping one other, and having faith in a future they cannot yet see and yet striving to get there anyway, those are the things I hope they learn above all else.

And when I ponder my place in it all, I realize I don't want to be just another coach who teaches a game. Anyone can do that. I want to be a coach who helps create better people; people who can figure out how to get the results they want while building others up along the way and most importantly, people who never, ever give up. They won't always get what they dream up, they won't always win that trophy or prize, but by giving their all until the bitter end and by helping others do the same, they will lead vibrant and full lives, lives without regret.

In the wake of another unexpected loss, the questions are far more numerous than the answers. But that one glaring lesson remains: we simply do not know how long we get to walk this path. We must make the most of the time we have and with the people we have in it. And that time is now.

I wish that lesson came easier.

Rest in peace, Christopher.