Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart.

Every Spring
you show up

and you remind me
of Grandma’s love.

You remind me of her presence
and influence on my life.

Thank you
Bleeding Heart!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Many years ago, my Grandma gave me this bleeding heart plant.  I have transplanted and moved it.  It will always be where I am.  Grandma will always be a part of me.  There is likely not a day that passes where something doesn’t remind me of her or make me think of her, but this plant is an extra special reminder.  It makes my heart soar and swell each Spring when it blooms.  Just like her love for me did and still does.  With Mother’s Day approaching, I remember Grandma with love and the deepest admiration.  May I be even half the Grandma to my grandchildren that you were to me. ❤

PS – I will be taking a blogging break for a week or so.  See you when I return.

After the Rain

After the Rain.

After the rain,
we walked at the park.

The grass was greener,
the air was fresh and clean.

The sun warmed,
and the blossoming trees popped

almost as if they were
smiling with the joy they knew I felt.

My heart swelled a wee bit more
like it so often does

in moments spent
with my grandie girls.

Mommy told Grandie Girl 1
about the time she spent playing ball on this field,

and asked her if she thought she
would want to do the same some day.

The sweet, high-pitched voice
in the miniature, but too-fast growing body,

responded so excitedly
and affirmatively

like she most always does,
wanting to be just like mommy.

And I smile at both of them with their muddy shoes
from the stop we made along the walk to float dandelions in the creek.

I steal a glance at Grandie Girl 2,
who is grinning and squealing with delight

as if to affirm her agreement
and wanting to be just like her big sister.

These are the moments…
the sweet precious moments.

After the rain.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Reflections of Thanksgiving

Reflections of Thanksgiving.

Babies growing too quickly.
A loved one’s final day.
Family time together.
Thoughts of family apart.

Sons have become men
that make us gleam with pride.
Daughter in laws grow dearer
with each passing year.

Hubby’s smoked turkey
woos the crowd again.
Granddaughter’s first apple pie
sweetens meal’s end.

Pumpkin pie for breakfast
with a bestie and “our” mom.
Cocktails with our faves
to consummate a just-right day.

Waists growing thicker.
Hair becoming greyer.
Embracing the vulnerability.
Loving fiercely.

Reflections of Thanksgiving.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Blue Reflections

Blue Reflections Watercolor – Cerulean and Indigo – 11×14 140lb cold press

Blue Reflections.

Baby boys turned into men.
The future in my granddaughter’s eyes.
The color of the ice caps over Mount Denali.
The color of the sea in St. Marten.
Scoring Boardwalk and Park Place in Monopoly.
Moonlight and starlight in the forest.
Dipping soft sable hair into cerulean and indigo watercolor.
Blue reflections creating magic.

I so enjoyed creating this watercolor painting! I splashed a bit and walked away for a while. I came back and added some more, and walked away again.  And then I did it again.  It was so exciting to come back and see what magic happened, and I so love how it turned out.  When I look at it, I think blue…. and memories flood my heart.

And I smile.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Stella Star – Remembering Grandma

This week of Christmas, I am sharing a few of my favorite posts from the past.  I couldn’t share favorites without including one of my all-time favorite people …. Grandma…. my Stella Star…. in this post I wrote 3 1/2 years ago. 
This day is also a day of sad remembrance of a sweet little boy (shown below with Grandma and Grandpap and me in 1968) – my brother, Johnny, before life and alcoholism stole his life as an adult when he decided one year ago today to step in front of train and let us know there would be no “Clarence” for him….

It was also the birthday of my beautiful, sweet, loving sister-in-law, whose life was cut way too short at 50 years old several years ago to cancer.

Life brings many memories – happy and sad, good and bad.  If we didn’t love, loss wouldn’t hurt so much…..  But it’s still worth it….  And it’s ok to have sad memories as well as happy ones.  It means we loved…. and that’s what life is about.

Stella Star – remembering grandma

Grandma & Grandpap, Johnny & Jodi - 1968

Grandma & Grandpap, Johnny & Jodi – 1968

Grandma was my F-A-V-O-R-I-T-E person in the whole wide world growing up.

I have so many happy memories about Grandma I could probably write an entire book.

I took a walk on my lunch break yesterday afternoon in between raindrops and thunderstorms, and for some reason, I thought about Grandma an extra lot on that walk.

I think everything about early summer – the sights, the sounds, the smells – remind me of Grandma.

Maybe it is because I spent almost EVERY SINGLE DAY of EVERY SINGLE SUMMER growing up at Grandma’s house.

Oh – it was the BEST camp ever!

I learned so much from a lady that had to quit school in 4th grade to stay home and take care of her three younger brothers after their young mother passed away. At the ripe ole’ age of about 9 or 10, Grandma became mother, housewife, laundress, seamstress, cook, repair person, gardener and lawn tenderer. Can you even imagine? And this is long before automatic washing machines and dryers and sewing machines, disposable diapers, microwaves, cell phones, Google and Youtube, even indoor bathrooms! This was hard work – all day long – every day.

So though grandma was not formally educated, she was one of the smartest people I knew, and I learned so much from her – more than I realized at the time and even more the older I get looking back. She taught me important STUFF about real life – about cooking – about nature – about relationships – about acceptance and being the best of yourself. It was often disguised in humor or tough love or late night talks or swings on the porch or while picking blackberries. She wasn’t really trying to teach me by telling me how to be or what to say or how to act (or was she?). She lived her life in a way that demonstrated it and allowed me to experience it.

Oh she did some pretty UN-smart things too……. Like cutting off half of her middle finger on the lawn mower blade while trying to remove stuck grass without shutting off the mower…. Or cleaning some tough grime off the kitchen floor with gasoline and getting too close to the oven and catching the house on fire….

She never got her driver’s license after driving THROUGH the garage door, but she somehow managed to get around.

G3

Grandma, Jodi & Jake 1987

She couldn’t balance a checkbook, but she was the best penny pincher and gift giver ever.

She did, however, make the absolute best blackberry piecoffee soup (half coffee/half milk and lots of crumbled up saltines or chunks of toast), homemade sauerkraut and pierogies and halupkis and liver ball soup and apricot bread and nut rolls and salmon patties and dandelion salad and dumplings – oh my!

She also taught me things like how to make beautiful, colorful bouquets of Queen Ann’s Lace(many consider a weed) by putting food coloring in a mason jar vase of water so that when the flowers “drank the water,” their white petals turned pink or green or blue.

She taught me how to build a tent and a fort and how to camp out in the woods (about 500 feet from the house – but oh so far and vast when I was young). Thought I must admit I’m still not very good at that woodsy stuff…. Trying!

She could also splice electrical wires and do plumbing repairs.

She even allowed me to learn through crazy experiments like the time my friend, Janet and I decided we were going to boil worms (in her kitchen) for a science fair experiment! Or clean myself up in her bathroom with her yellow towels after experimenting with a mud mask facial – with REAL mud from the gravel road! (Oh the breakout after that escapade…)

What a sport she was – what a mentor – what a hero!

When grandma got older and became sick, it was my time to repay her. I hope I made her feel as loved as she did me.

G4

Grandma, Jodi, & Nick 1990

I’ll never forget the time when she was recovering from a surgery and stayed with Marty and me in our small home in the spare room so we could look after her closely. I was pregnant with my first son, Jake at the time, and still working full time. Grandma was having trouble sleeping at night and would get chilled and shake and couldn’t get warm. She called out in the middle of the night and Marty got her an electric blanket, but nothing worked. She kept trembling and shaking until I climbed on top of her – pregnant belly and all – wrapped my arms around her and calmed her until the shivering stopped – warmed from my body heat – and love. And we slept through the rest of the night. I know she would have done the same for me. That is the kind of love she taught me.

Her name was Stella, and I thought that was the silliest name when I was young. She loved her name, however. She would proudly tell me that Stella meant “star,” and as I look back, I realized she was – and still is – my shining star.

Do you have a Stella Star in your life?

G1

Stella Star & Her #1 Fan – 1985

I sure hope so. There’s nothing better.

Love you Grandma – then, now, and at all the stages of Life In Between…

Cheers and Hugs,
Jodi

Dear Kitchen Table

This week leading up to Christmas, I am sharing a few of my favorite posts from the past.  This letter to my kitchen table makes me smile.  It still remains sturdy and proud in our kitchen – though it is usually covered with a table cloth these days.  I love the memories formed around our kitchen table.

Dear Kitchen Table

kitchen table

My Dear Ole’ Kitchen Table –

I know you are growing old and tired and worn (and as I look at this photo I took of you just yesterday, I realize it even more!)  There are days I think I want to replace you – or at least refinish your surface.  Many a discussion has been had about you!

But then I remember all the things we’ve been through together… The memories you’ve been a part of…  The people that have sat around you…    the food and festivities you have held…    the activities that you supported….   the different homes you have moved to with us through the years….  and I have a hard time parting with you.

Remember all those Christmas cards we colored on you?  Hours and hours over the years of markers and ink accidentally sliding off the paper onto you, which you gracefully accepted.

Remember how many times milk was spilled on you?  It often slithered through the cracks and off the edge onto the floor, but you never complained while we all scampered to gather clothes to wipe you off and rearrange dinner.

Remember homework, filling out school papers, permission slips, sick notes….?

Remember science projects and art projects?

Remember gift wrapping sessions with paper and scissors and tape and boxes and bags and tags?

Remember daily family dinner time conversations?   Arguments?   Laughter?   Prayers?   Tears?

Remember games of Chutes and Ladders, Old Maid, Monopoly, Life, Trouble, Five Crowns, Rummy, Yahtzee, Set, Operation, Battleship, Trivial Pursuit, Cranium, and the hardest of all on you – Jenga!?

Remember breakfasts with friends with strips of sizzling bacon, stacks of pancakes, bowls of eggs, and cups and cups and cups of coffee?

Remember when the boys were in high school and we hosted weekly Thursday night flag football games for 5 or 10 or 15 at a time – and then served pots of spaghetti or chili or whole hams or turkeys or roasts to all for dinner – always with a cake or pie or plates of cookies for dessert for hungry growing boys (and girls!)?

Remember vacation-planning sessions discussed around you – like our trip to Hawaii with Jill & Todd – or reminiscing about favorite vacations like our Caribbean Cruise where we met our wonderful Bubby and Glenn or our ultimate excursion to Alaska with our sweet Janet?

Remember our first Christmas reunited with Dad and Carole and Aunt Gwen and Uncle Frank and John and Jeff and Dawn and Jen and the whole gang?

Remember bantering and jokes between Pap and Ron?

Remember shower and wedding planning discussions for Jake and Colleen?

Remember meeting Liz and seeing how happy she makes Nick?

You’ve cooled cookies and cakes and pies on warm summer days and cold winter evenings.

You’ve held fresh flowers and birthday cakes and candles.

Each scratch and fade and mark is a reminder of all of these times….

Thank you for being with our family and helping to keep us in touch with each other.  You were often the center of important deep and meaningful conversations.  Other times you were pounded on as we laughed until we cried…..   or cried until we laughed.

You may not be as beautiful as you were 24 years ago when we bought you from the quaint shop that sells handmade Amish-built oak furniture, but neither am I?

And I’m ok with you if you’re ok with me.

What we have together goes much deeper than superficial “looks.”

Thank you, my dear ole’ kitchen table, for all you have given to our family.

With love,

Jodi

*This post was inspired by Thursday’s Daily Prompt at The Daily Post, entitled:   Literate for a Day:   Someone or something you can’t communicate with through writing (a baby, a pet, an object) can understand every single word you write today, for one day only. What do you tell them?

The Family Bookshelf – My Memory Box

This week leading up to Christmas, I am sharing a few of my favorite posts from the past.  I hope you enjoy this visit to my family bookshelf – my memory box – as much as I do revisiting it and looking at it every day.

The Family Bookshelf – My Memory Box

the family bookshelf

Do you have a favorite place or space in your home?

One of my favorite spaces in our home is the family bookshelf.

It’s kind of center stage in the great room commanding half of one wall measuring about 8 feet wide by 9 feet tall.

Hubby custom built this a few years after we built our house.

My “usual” seat on the couch directly faces this “memory box,” and sometimes I just stare at all the memories while hubby is staring at the television or the latest book he is reading in the evening.

It’s filled with so many favorite things…

There are a lot of family photos – some from a long time ago and some more recent…

Like our oldest son at 4 years old playing a toy saxophone and then a framed newspaper clipping of him playing a saxophone solo in the high school band.  There’s one of him and his beautiful wife – our beloved daughter-in-law.  There’s one of him and his Dad with a cake they made for a Cub Scouts competition and one in his “cap and gown” at his preschool graduation.

There are photos of our youngest son dressed in his favorite Halloween costume that he wore two years in a row when he was Peter Pan at 4 and 5 years old, in his football uniform for midget football, sticking his tongue out with his Dad and brother on a summer trip to Cedar Point Amusement Park, grinning at me at his preschool graduation, with me at a Kindergarten party where I was his homeroom mom, and with his sweet girlfriend now.

There is a photo of my hubby with his sister when they were young children…  a sister and aunt who we loved dearly and lost way too early from cancer.

And there is a photo of my father-in-law taken on his last day on this earth when he was blessed with a surprise visit from a favorite niece from far away who he hadn’t seen in years.  It is such a sweet memory to see him so happy just hours before he left us.  We will never be able to express enough gratitude to this sweet lady for the joy she brought him that special day.

There are photos of friends and fun times, like a trip to Hawaii with our besties and holiday celebrations with all of our kids.

There are a few books, some significant, some not…  There are high school yearbooks, photo memory books, bibles, favorite children’s books – like our very favorite bedtime read-aloud story book – “Bob and Jack – A Boy and his Yak.”  There are baby books for each of the boys and a special memory book made by my cousin Joyce and given to me at Christmas featuring my first year blogging at LifeinBetween.me.  There are books read at book club and business books and bird books and favorite fiction authors.  There is a copy of the book I wrote and had bound as a gift to my Dad for our second Christmas together after reuniting.  Our wedding photo albums sit on one of the shelves.

Then there are other sweet memorabilia, like our youngest son’s stuffed animal “Curious George” who he loved so dearly as a child and slept with every night.

There is the birthday bear my Dad sent me on my first birthday after we reunited after too many years apart with a sweet note saying, “Happy Birthday Jodi, My Little Girl.  Love you, Dad.”

It was my 48th birthday.

And there is the little trinket box he gave me that says, “Daughter – With all the Beauty on the Earth, there is nothing more Beautiful than you.”

There’s a statue of a yellow lab that was my father-in-law’s sweet memory of his beloved “Brandy.”

There’s a cruise ship trophy our oldest son won singing Karaoke on a cruise with his now wife on a family vacation he went on with her family.

There are “Friends” blocks given to me from my BFF.

There is a photo album of our Cleveland friends wearing Pittsburgh Steelers shirts and poses too explicit to share here after they lost a family bet during a rival football playoff season.

There is a gorgeous painting from a faraway friend who suffered from a life-altering traumatic brain injury that completely changed her life and turned a corporate CEO into an artistic genius and a genuinely beautiful creative inspiration.  I bought her very first piece of artwork, and I treasure it so dearly.

My heart is smiling as I type and recall these memories.

You see – a home is not brick and mortar.  It is not plaster and paint.

It is the memories.

It is the family and friends and people you share it with.

My favorite little plaque hanging on another wall in our home says it all….

“The thing I love most about my home is who I share it with.”

So that is my special home “space.”

What is yours?

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Dear Music

Dear Music,

Thank you for lifting my spirits.
Thank you for reminding me of sweet memories.
Thank you for speaking to me when all other words fail.

Thank you for making me dance – even if only in my heart.
Thank you for making me sing – even if off key.
Thank you for taking me places I might never go.

Thank you for expressing the inexpressible.
Thank you for your healing power.
Thank you for letting me hear the voices of angels.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

10 Months Ago Today…

10 Months Ago Today.

I crossed the railroad tracks today,
like I do so many days.

And I realized, after the fact,
that for the first time in 10 months

I didn’t get a lump in my throat…
I didn’t hold my breath…

I didn’t think of you
and the decision you made

10 months ago today.

It caught me off guard…
Made me both happy and sad.

Only 10 months ago
you were still here…

barely hanging on…
but still there was hope.

10 months later
there is no more hope

and the memory is beginning
to fade.

I want to be happy,
yet that makes me sad.

10 months ago today
you took your life away.

Rest in peace dear brother.
Rest in peace.

Love,
Jodi