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Inspirational Pay Dirt And A Leap of Faith!

How quickly the past ten years have flown by; a subtle reminder of my own mortality!  I’ve enjoyed incredible highlights in my life during that time!  I celebrated the marriages of my three children.  I’ve seen their career paths unfold as they each graduated from college.  My son, Jake and younger daughter, Mandi, have continued on with graduate school.  Malia, my oldest daughter, works in interior design.  She and her husband, Shane, have blessed our family with two darling little girls, Makena and Marli.

Being a grandparent has surpassed all expectations!  

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Of course, I can now better appreciate the fact that my own parents lovingly expressed these same feeling to me as they saw their own grandchildren born and raised.

My husband, Tom and I enjoy our respective careers.  He is a financial planner and I am a nurse.  We have ridden out the waves of thriving economic times, as well as uncertain ones.  We cherish our association with wonderful family members and friends!  Even so, it can get tricky to strike a good balance in the rushed momentum of everyday life, and some goals get set aside by default!

When you do take the time to enjoy a quieter pace, it obviously lends itself to more personal introspection.

It was during these times, whether puttering in my yard, getting in a good work out, or reading and snuggling with my granddaughters, that I felt renewed dedication to follow through and make good on the promise I made to myself.  Your mind, however, is prone to go a thousand different directions on something like this, and ultimately it all seems intimidating and overwhelming.  Then this past March, my daughter-in-law gave me a wonderful book for my birthday, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years by Don Miller.  (Such a great read!)  In a chapter at the beginning of this book, there was a paragraph that proved to be inspirational pay dirt for me.  The author tells of his uncle, a very influential person in his life, who dies unexpectedly.  He writes, “My uncle told a good story with his life…but his story wasn’t finished.”

 Like most children, I held strong to the belief that my parents were invincible, they were living wonderful lives and regardless that the odds were stacked against them, I couldn’t imagine their lives ending when they did…their stories weren’t finished yet!

I revisited many aspects of my parent’s lives again while working to settle a legal ordeal where it became apparent that some questionable activity had taken place that compromised the final wishes of my parents concerning their trusts.  In doing this, I came to realize, more than ever before, that both my dad and mom truly seemed to have enjoyed life so immensely, despite the challenges and hard work involved in any life well lived!

Near the end of his book,  Donald Miller says that a good story teller doesn’t just tell a better story though, “He invites other people into the story with him, giving them a better story too.”  He elaborates in the closing paragraph of his book:

“We live in a world where bad stories are told that teach us life doesn’t mean anything…..it’s a good calling then, to speak a better story.  How brightly a better story shines.  How easily the world looks to it in wonder.  How grateful we are to hear these stories, and how happy it makes us to repeat them.”

With this amazing insight in mind…I’m taking a leap of faith and hoping that as I share my stories, you’ll share your own as well!

What I’m learning now…

My parents always seemed to take life’s challenges in stride.  I often observed thoughtful communication between them during particularly tough times. The result of which, was a seemingly uncanny insight into when they each needed to be stronger for the other in order to help pull each other through stressful times.

In facing the challenges of being married and raising a family, what I’m learning now is that my dad and mom very likely, often experienced deeply genuine, soul wrenching concerns…the heart in your stomach, sleepless night kind!!

How did your parents deal with stressful times?

In what ways did your parents help you with challenges in your life?

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I hope we can all know and enjoy a source of unconditional love and support when challenges arise, and that we can be that love and support for someone else!

–Mary

 

Welcome to My Venture!

Although my approach may be a bit unconventional, it is my greatest desire for this online journal to be a unique place where we can share life lessons learned from the many wonderful people–past and present– who profoundly touch our lives!

I sincerely hope you will feel inclined to comment and pay tribute to these great mentors by sharing your thoughts with me and this community.  It’s my goal for all who visit here to benefit as we participate and read one another’s insights.

I’ve learned that everyone has something to teach and something to learn!

A Promise To Myself

It’s been ten years since my father died at age 88 from myelocytic leukemia.  “A young man’s cancer,” his doctor had told him.  To which my dad’s quick retort had been, “And after all I am a young man!”  When dad called to update me on this latest doctor’s appointment in early December 2001, he prefaced the phone call in his familiar candid manner by saying, “I suppose that when you get to be my age, you can expect the doctor will give you bad news about some tests he’s taken on you.”  Then with such sadness in his voice he said, “I just figured I had a least another good five years left!”  How can you possibly come up with the “right” things  to say off the top of your head when you’re hit with this type of news?  You don’t, not really.  I was glad that my dad allowed me to cry–his tears had been shed earlier…I think.

During the last six months of his life, my father suffered few symptoms that often accompany this disease.  I went to see him on this 88th birthday, April 27, 2002.  He was weak and required a little oxygen, but his sense of humor was still keen.  “I don’t know about dying”, he quipped towards the end of our visit, “it must work, because surely alot of people do it and I don’t see any of them coming back!”

After his diagnosis, my dad often reflected that he had truly lived a wonderful life!

“I’ve had a really good thing going here.”  he’d say with a chuckle.

 My father passed away on May 1, 2002

Where my dad had enjoyed mostly optimal health throughout his life, my mother, despite her best efforts, did not fare as well in this area.  She had declined considerably in the year prior to my dad learning he had leukemia.  Throughout my childhood, I had observed my parents caring kindly for each other, but as far as my mother’s health was concerned, my father always seemed patient in his nurturing when she didn’t feel well.  He was also valiant in seeking out good doctors who could direct them to safe and qualified medical resources that could give her better life quality.  He became as vigilant as ever during his last months, to assure that my sweet mom would not worry for her physical needs after his death.  Ultimately, my mother needed to go a care center, but my dad, in his usual endearing ways, saw to all the details so that as much as possible, it was a home away from home for her.  How quickly the residents, as well as the care givers, were enriched by both my parents while they lived there.

I believe it was Mark Twain who said,

“Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die, even the undertaker will be sorry.”

Without even realizing it, my folks adhered to this motto with seeming ease!  My mother’s condition continued to deteriorate the next few years, but she didn’t pass away until some three years after my father.

My father stated in the introduction of a brief autobiography he completed prior to his death, that while his life was not particularly unusual, he experienced deeply and richly!

“My life has been a good one, very worthwhile.”  he wrote.

What more could anyone ask for as they reviewed their years here on earth: a life well lived with wonderful memories left to linger and be remembered by those that loved you!

Unfortunately, some legal wrangling concerning my parent’s trusts appeared to be the last chapter of their legacy of abundant living.  When at long last, the final legal documents were signed and monetary distributions made, I felt reserved relief.  The final wishes of my dad and mom for their posterity were achieved the best they could be, considering the circumstances.  In the back of my mind however, I made a promise to myself that somehow I’d find a way to honor and celebrate these two lovely people, who did indeed live ordinary lives, but in a unique and steadfast fashion!

What I’m learning now is…

My parents had a genuine “old school” kind of love; such a natural flow of give and take it seemed.  They took such good care of each other.  As a family, we teased them once in awhile that they did have children to take care of too!

Having been married myself now for a number of years, what I’m learning now is that what my parents seemed to achieve so effortlessly in their relationship, more than likely required a lot more work than I ever realized!

How have you seen your parents nurture each other?

In what ways do you nurture those close to you?

 

I hope we can all learn to love a little more.

–Mary