I’ve been having a tough time of it lately. The past few months have been a struggle.
And I didn’t even realize it.
It started in January when Green Bay Packer Legend, Jerry Kramer, came to my workplace. He told interesting stories about his days with the 1960’s Packers, the Ice Bowl, about Bart Starr, Max McGee, Ray Nitschke, Paul Hornung, Fuzzy Thurston, & Coach Vince Lombardi.
These Packers… this was the team that my mom fell in love with.
I sat there that night listening to his stories and looking at his pictures and watching his videos… and I cried. I cried because I suddenly, and profoundly, missed my mom.
A few weeks later, Dave and I prepared to celebrate our 25th anniversary. As we got closer to it, I deeply missed my mom and dad. I have memories of celebrating THEIR 25th anniversary in the summer of 1984. Us 5 kids planned a surprise party for them. Really it was my two older sisters who planned it, but we all were a part of it. And now I was going to be celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary. I wanted my parents there to be a part of it.
Then the day before our anniversary, my nephew unexpectedly passed away. And I suddenly had a newfound, desperate longing for my parents. I didn’t know how any of us were going to get through this horrible time without my parents. How was my sister going to get through the death of her child without her own parents there to hold her up? They were our base, our foundation… they were always our sanctuary.
As I’ve gotten closer to making my bee hives a reality, I long for my dad to be here. He was a farmer, right down to his soul. Other than his family, that was the one thing he loved the most… farming. I so want him here to be a part of what I’m doing. I want to share this with him. I want him to see this part of me that he nurtured.
We were out on our friend's farm this weekend, clearing a little bit of land and placing my hives. It took me back to the days of my youth, playing along side where my dad would be working. I would pretend to be “farming” just like my dad. Then I got older and I had to help with the farm work, and there were times it wasn’t so much fun anymore. 😂😂😂 And now, 40+ years later, I have a little slice of “farm” that I’m starting. Yep, it’s only 3 bee hives, on somebody else's property. But it’s a start to the little farm I’d love to have one day in the future. And I want my dad here to see me doing it. To be proud of me. And to take pride in what he taught me.
This weekend we’ll be burying my nephew who passed away a few weeks ago. One more heartbreaking goodbye to my nephew, my Godchild. Again, we have to do this without mom and dad… how? How do we do it? How does my sister bury her child… without her own mother there to support her?
The cemetary is right out near the farm that we all grew up on. Our farm will be about a mile and a half further down the road. It’s going to be so close to “going home”, but just not quite. Of course we can never “go home” again because mom and dad are gone. But this feels like a cruel teaser to be so close to being “home”, to being home with mom and dad, but yet so far away.
Last night, I had a dream about camping. When I was young, we had a motor home, and we camped a lot over the years with some great family friends. This dream was a mash-up of all those great camping trips with Darlene & Sherman and their family, and even Dick & Barb Kjos & family showed up in this dream, too. I woke up happy and sad all at the same time.
And then this morning, I opened the garage to start the car before taking Megan to work. We finally made it out to the car about 10 minutes later, and there was a male cardinal in all his red glory sitting in the garage chirping away. I’ve seen many birds in the garage over the years, but I’ve never seen a cardinal do it. Many believe that when a cardinal comes to you, it’s a loved one visiting you. And my mom loved cardinals. Loved them. LOVED. THEM. Was she trying to tell me she’s here with me. Her and dad both? Was she trying to sooth my sore heart?
Tonight I had the urge to listen to the Statler Brothers. In all those years of camping, I would listen to one particular 8-track tape of theirs over and over and over. It’s a very treasured memory of mine. The Statler Brothers were a favorite of my parents, and they are a favorite of mine. Tonight I felt the need to have that connection to my parents.
And then tonight I finally realized… these past few months have been HARD. I’ve been plugging away, meeting each new day, missing my parents, getting through the death of another family member, just taking each day as it came. But tonight I looked back and I saw the big picture and I realized what a stressful, heartbreaking few months it’s been for me. I almost feel relieved by this discovery.
So, be kind. Just... be kind. You don't know what other people might be going through - heck, they might not even know what they're going through - and your kindness might be the only bright spot in their day.