What I Would Say If I Could

Today, it is calm, though rainy, where I live. I have been enjoying the day move from sunny and warm to overcast….and still warm. The rain started and somehow its building rhythm distracted me from the book I am readying to thoughts of my Mother.

Most of my life, I felt a disconnection from my mom. She defined what I didn’t want to be, while I found comfort and security in my dad. She was loud, had huge mood swings, while he was always even keeled and calm. She pushed me to want to scream, and he soothed me. I always considered myself more like my dad, and I would emphasize that in numerous ways, year after year. I wasn’t ashamed of my mom, really, but the things I recognized in her I wanted to minimize, and the things I saw in my dad I emphasized.

Having the benefit of age, of days like this that allow me to gaze back on the years that brought me here, I realize so many years were wasted with my myopic view of my parents. I don’t mean to suggest the hugely important and real impact my dad has had on my life; but like many things we humans do with people, I created a fantasy of my own truth that I suppose I needed, but nonetheless fractures upon inspection. I cannot separate from the goodness and love my dad provided for me, but my mom was not the woman I believed her to be, at least not the extent I manufactured in my mind for too many years.

My mom, born in a generation where many words used were not considered racist, was the first person I really knew who accepted all walks of life without hesitation. She raised eyebrows by having friends that were black, Chinese, Jewish…..the list goes on. I don’t recall her ever saying a certain race was bad or anything negative. She never said I couldn’t have a friend due to their race. She divorced an abusive man when the stigma for being a single mom was worse than being a prostitute. She bore on her shoulders the thought that her own mother did not love her and was often a shadow in her own family history (distant relatives I’ve come across through Ancestry knew of her brothers/my uncles or even met them, but never knew they had a sister). She always seemed to want to be loved, but somehow built scenarios in which even the strongest love didn’t work. She definitely had her demons to content with, many of which I witnessed throughout my years and often ran from in dismay, but somehow always offered unconditional love and acceptance no matter how heated the last exchange might have been.

I see now that the woman I defined mostly as negative for most of my life was not this angry, irrational being. No. Instead, she was supportive. She was fearful. She was hungry for love. She was confident. She was intelligent. She was resilient. She didn’t step on those beside her, fighting to survive as she was. Instead, she shared what meager tools she had to assist them, too. Most often, she’d make a friend while doing so. I thought hard today, trying to remember when she spoke badly about someone or uttered words of judgment; I couldn’t. Even during the prolonged years of my own parent’s tumultuous divorce, she’d focus on the issues she was fighting for and never once spoke badly about my dad. Even as our own strained relationship ebbed and flowed as I grew into adulthood, trying so desperately to be anything but like her, she never told me I was not her daughter. She never made me feel like I’d failed her. She always spread her arms wide and welcomed me. Even when I exposed how broken I was, or how hurtful I could be, she loved me and shone with pride.

So I sit here, regretting the time I lost with her. How I failed to come to this realization completely when she was alive. How I failed to ask simple questions like how it felt as a little girl during World War II, or what her favorite meal was as a child, or how she reacted to her first period, or what country she always wanted to visit. How she survived such a hard life (and it was very hard) and yet come out loud, emotional, but always loving. How, in the years when she was home bound and fighting COPD, she avoided becoming a bitter, mean old woman. How, even as I overtly fought being like her, she never once said she was disappointed in me or suggested I lacked in anything. How, in fact, she built me up even if I was too ignorant to notice.

So today, I looked up at the cloudy, rain soaked sky, and spoke to her. I apologized for not asking those questions. I apologized for sitting days after her death, listening to horrible things be said about her, and doing nothing to defend her memory. I said I was proud to look so much like her, and yes, even act a lot like her, and admit I am glad that I do. I thanked her for all the unrealized gifts she provided throughout my life, feeling their weight like a gift and not regret. I thanked her for creating a model that I am just now embracing wholly, instead of as an example of what I should avoid.

I am forever thankful that she knew my love, that she heard from my mouth that she was a great mom to me before she died. I am thankful that I could feel her love once more before she left. And I am thankful that I am so much like her, even if just realizing it.



Questions

It has been ten months since my mom passed away.  Of course, dealing with that has been a journey; sometimes something reminds me of my mom and I laugh, or sometimes I get tears in my eyes, and I often miss her.  That is all normal…..to be expected.  Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror – especially when my hair is wet and slicked back away from my face – and I get a little freaked out because I look so much like her.  Sometimes I just ruminate about my life with her, the moments we’ve shared, etc.

I have been traveling to Kentucky for work lately, and I never expected it to create such a stir with memories about my mom…….I never thought it would create a serious of questions that I have no way to answer.  My mom moved to Los Angeles when she was two years old and lived in California the bulk of her life.  When she and my dad divorced in the early 90’s, she was working for her brothers.  However, some were retiring and eventually the company was sold.  I BELIEVE my mom lost her job at that point.  Not sure what she was going to do to support herself, she and a friend she met at work moved to Kentucky, where her friend grew up.  I was a young mother at that time, focused on taking care of baby Kirstie and making my own marriage and life work, so I wasn’t as involved in my mom’s life as I usually would be.  I remember we exchanged letters during this time, and honestly she was pretty bitter about her divorce and I emotionally pulled away since I felt I was put in the middle of it.  But, the bottom line is she moved away from everyone she knew, went to a place where she basically knew no one, and was on her own.

Being here, I wonder where she lived.  I wonder what she thought about the green hills, the pictures of horses everywhere, did she like the Bourbon BBQ that is so prevalent here?  She ended up getting a job at a Taco Bell out here, she really couldn’t find work (the economy was struggling at the time) and I wonder how the heck that felt.  I wonder if she was scared, if she felt isolated.  In one of her letters she mentioned that there was only one phone in the neighborhood she lived in and the owner would take messages for the neighbors and it was difficult to connect.  She said she got a message that someone called her but they didn’t think to get a name, so she wondered if it was me.  Reading that letter in my mind now and being in this state triggered so many things to wonder about.

And that led me to so many other questions.  My mom was born in 1935 – she was alive during all years of WWII and was 10 years old when it ended.  How did that impact her life?  Did she and her family have rations during this time?  Did she fear Germans at this time, when Germany was easily the targeted “enemy”?  Was she ever scared that the war would come to California?  Does she remember the Japanese Internment Camps and what did she think about them?  And why the hell did I never think to ask her about this?  I know SO MUCH about my paternal Grandma during the depression, even about her early marriage during this timeframe, but not my own mother?  I have no idea why.  And now I can’t even ask my mom.

So, here I am early in the morning blogging about it.  I feel a connection to my mom here in Kentucky and that also seems strange.  But I guess while I write this as a form of personal therapy, I also yearn to remind you something you probably will nod at but maybe not think about again – treasure the time you have with family.  Don’t take it for granted.  Inquire about life details that may not seem important really now and maybe even feels mundane, but are actually pieces of gold that will be lost forever if you miss the opportunity to ask.

And mom, I miss you.

Firsts

Life is filled with “firsts”.  First laughs, first steps, first time driving, first kisses.  So many momentous occasions that we often look back on with smiles and warm feelings.  I remember clearly the day Kirstie was born 26 years ago – my first day as a mom – as the feelings were so fantastic and amazing.  I am sure you have a list of “firsts” as well and understand what I am describing.

But there are other kinds of firsts, too.  Your first speeding ticket.  Your first broken bone.  The first death in the family.  Your first heartbreak.  These events aren’t as sought after and do not bring the cozy feelings we often like to sit through as if a great movie has shown up on the TV.  No, these sort of memories are the ones that definitely impact our lives, but we don’t embrace them when they come to mind.

2016 presented itself with a few firsts I’d rather have avoided – I was attacked for being gay for the first time this year.  That truly sucked and changed a lot about me, though I am working through that.  What really hit me harder than I expected, though, was going through my birthday, Christmas, and the New Year for the first time with my mom not being on this earth.  I have not lived in the same state as my mom since December 2009, so it’s not like I had recently SPENT those events with her.  Even so, not being able to call her or hear her voice……to hear her say, “when am I going to see you again?” (as she always asked that), and to tell her I love her hit me pretty hard.  And, for some reason the pain and the loss I felt surprised me.  And that was a first of sorts as well.  Perhaps it was exacerbated by the fact my older kids were not with me for Christmas this year for the first time as well, which magnified my sense of loss.  But it was hard, across the board.

I am not sharing this to complain or fish for “poor Gina” comments.  I guess I wanted to share that sometimes life is hard……even when we think we have things under control.  And, well, it’s okay that it gets hard.  It’s okay that we sometimes feel punched in the gut and we had no idea to even prepare for it, and it is no measurement of our strength (or lack thereof) when this happens.  There is no deficiency in our faith or belief in heaven when we miss those that are no longer near us.  And finally, that sense of loss and pain is not permanent, even in the case of my mom.  I was able to see my older kids the week after Christmas, and I am surrounded by my mom’s paintings and tons of memories.  I was also in California recently and spent some time with my brother David, and he gave me one of my mom’s favorite rings that he found as well as the Bible that Edgar and I had given her on her 52nd birthday.  THAT surprised me, given that I am almost that age myself!  Ha.  So, really, this post is to acknowledge that we have highs and lows…….to acknowledge and feel both…….but to step up and move to the next segment.  I didn’t say that well, but hope you get the drift.

Happy New Year, and may 2017 be filled with more highs than lows, but know you are loved through them all!

Happy Birthday, Mom

June 17, 2016  would have been my mom’s 81st birthday – 1 month and 1 day after she flew to heaven.  I miss her, but I am so glad my memories are with me and I carry her in my heart. I DO hear her voice sometimes say to me “I still think you’re the best” when I mess up or whatever. I also know she definitely loved me even when I hid the “true Gina” so many years ago, and continued to love me when I began my journey of authenticity.  I love you Mom, and I know someday I will see you again! Thanks for loving ME, all of me. Enjoy your day celebrating in Paradise.

Jan

My mom.  She was many things.  She hated the name “Janice”.  She loved her kids and grandkids so much – we are her legacy.  She was an artist, and now I appreciate her paintings more than I can explain.  She used to blot her lipstick on envelopes, pieces of paper, junk mail……her lip imprints could be found anywhere.  She used to drive like Mario Andretti, though I was never scared.  She was an amazing dancer back in the day.  Some songs would make her cry even if she wasn’t sad.  She always had long fingernails, and they were super strong.  My Dad never called her by her name, at least where I could hear, but instead called her “babe”, “honey”, etc.  She had friends from all walks of life, from tons of different races, and made equality a way of life not a byword.  Okay, so she met my Dad in a bar when he was in the Navy, and may have been nine years older than he was, but hey she was smoking hot and had pull.  She was a real estate agent for over 20 years and her clients became family; most were repeat customers multiple times.  She was not afraid to stand up to anyone, especially when someone was being a bully to someone weaker/smaller.

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She had an amazing laugh.  One look would shut up 100% of her kids – no yelling needed.  She loved to play the slots in Las Vegas or Laughlin.  She was an amazing cook, and as an Italian always made way too much food.  She was generous to a fault.  She was 5′ 3 1/2″ most of her life – and yes she always said the “and a half” part.  She was pretty witty for most of her life.  She could be awfully scary too (remember, she was Italian)!  She was an imperfect soul that I loved immensly.

Janice “Jan” Lorraine Gates Fakelmann Minard.  You will be missed and will remain forever in our hearts.

Reflection of Life

Those who have known me for a while know I had some rough times relating to my mom over the course of my youth.  Her being bipolar has had a lot to do with that, and reality is – we all have some form of dysfunction in our lives.  None of us are perfect.  Yet, if you’ve known me more than a week, you also know I often tell people I’ve had a pretty amazing life, my childhood was pretty legit, and I am pretty proud of the person I have grown up to be.  (Okay, so I am still pretty immature, but that’s besides the point.)

I am currently in the ICU ward of a Southern California hospital, my mother having been moved back here a few hours ago.  Right now she’s resting well, is under wonderful care, though due to that care it is difficult for her to communicate with us.  She has a face mask on and it’s pretty much impossible to hear anything she has to say.  Add that her voice is still recovering from the breathing tube that was only removed a few days ago, and well……the only real thing we can understand is her nodding yes or no.  Yet her eyes are so expressive, I could sit hours just gazing into them, reassuring her of my love, that she’s been a wonderful mother, that she’s doing a great job, and the like.  But, as she rests I thought I’d write some thoughts, as that is my therapy as I fight to stay strong but would rather fall in a messy heap and sob my heart out.

So, whether or not I struggled with my mom, no matter if there were times when I was not sure I could deal with her…….every negative thing I might have easily conjured up in the past lays silent as my mind and heart are overwhelmed with love and appreciation for her.

When I was about 6, my mom and I went grocery shopping.  I am not sure but I think we had guests; maybe my Grandma Minard was visiting or maybe it was someone else.  But we were there and we were buying items.  At the checkout I asked for a candy bar, which I usually didn’t do and by the way…..we hardly EVER had candy on the regular.  That was for special occasions.  Anyway, my mom said yes and I was shocked, EXCITED even!  But then I remember her getting really upset (not at me) and things being moved around and my mom acting weird.  But I didn’t understand it at all though I sure did enjoy that Snickers!  Come to find out later, as my Dad pulled me aside, and asked me to not ask for candy again.  He explained that my mom didn’t have enough cash for all the things we had to buy and that it was hard when she had to put things back.  I didn’t appreciate that as much when I was six, but as an adult who once upon a time had similar situations occur, I have to give my mom props for saying YES to the candy, and then letting me keep it even though she had to put back groceries.  I am sure the candy bar was not the tipping point, but you get what I am saying.

I was in a musical in kindergarten – I played the triangle BOOM – and my mother told me she would not be able to attend.  I was sad, because even back then I was extroverted and wanted nothing more than for my mom to see me rock the triangle.  I will always, ALWAYS remember the moment I hit the side of the instrument, looked up, and there was my mom standing in the back row!!!!!!  That filled my heart with happiness..

I have more to share, and I expect to do so in the coming days, but the truth of the matter is this – my mom did the very best she could.  While she may have made mistakes or regretting doing (or not doing) some things, that doesn’t matter.  And when I sat with her yesterday, all she could do was struggle to get the words formed in her mind and tell me what was heavy on her heart.  She didn’t let her confusion or her recovering vocal cords or her health get in her way.

Mom:  you are well liked

Gina:  thanks mom

Mom:  no, no (pause as she thought of the words) you are well loved

Gina:  awwww mom, thank you I love you too

Mom:  that’s it.  I love you.  I love you.  I love you.

And that, my friends, is all that really matters.  Love, and knowing when to share it.  And really, it should be shared always.

 

 

 

 

The Circle of Life

I have been blessed in many ways in my life, abundantly so.  One area that is a huge blessing that often fills my heart with gratitude is being a mother.  This area runs the gamut of emotions; joy, uncertainty, frustration, fear, excitement, pride, love……and the list goes on.  Sometimes it seems like just yesterday I was holding my first born daughter for the very first time, amazed that I was actually a mother, freaking out that I was responsible for this precious little bundle of joy……..and then to be hit in the face with the reality that she will be 26 this year.  What the HECK?!?!!?!  How did this happen?????  To watch videos of my oldest son learning to ride a bike, showing a determination and tenacity that was amazing, as I plan what to do for his 21st birthday.  To receive a text of my 15 year old son’s haircut, realizing he STILL has a pretty darn big head and has become this young gentlemen that blends the best of his father and me.  To pump up bicycle tires for a family ride, and notice all the hair on your 14 year old son’s masculine legs, as his 12 year old sister impatiently rides around you, seamlessly using the best project manager’s tone with perfection.  To have these thoughts running through your brain as you fall asleep, and then to wake to this video by Nichole Nordeman that a friend posted to Facebook…….WOW!!!!  My friend warned that we’d need tissues, and she was right!

 

Time DOES need to slow down, and as a mother of five kids I can attest to that.  But an interesting dynamic also exists in my life, and the last few days I’ve been pondering it.  Recently, I’ve been dealing with my mother being ill; she has struggled with her health for many years, though at the age of nearly 81, it seems her struggles have become more……I don’t even know the right word to write.  She and we have realized there will come a day, and perhaps that day is not as far off as it felt before, when she will graduate to heaven.  And that realization has made me think of my own childhood, of all the memories I have shared with my mom, and with my dad, and with my siblings and friends and aunts and uncles and grandparents.  And, even when these memories have been the most heartwarming and fun to reminisce over……..looking at my mother in her diminished state, hearing her voice that suddenly sounds old, seeing her hands shake or her skin bruise so easily…….seeing her now even as the memories of her back in the day taking no crap from anyone…….I wonder with awe where the hell the years have gone.  Even with the years of illness she’s been through, I feel almost blindsided by the reality that my mother is nearly 81 years old and somehow became this person that needs gentle care, needs mothering and gentleness and words of comfort and compassion, and will not be on this earth forever.

And as I have emotionally and physically been trying to process this realization, not always holding it together….and in fact losing it occasionally as I regress to an 8 year old girl that needs her mommy while also fully existing in the role of the parent, coordinating updates with my siblings and talking to doctors and making sure she has money to pay for food…….I can’t help but acknowledge my support system.  Of course Deana has been there for me in thousands of ways for which I can’t express enough in words.  But to sit here and ponder……my own children have stepped up into a new role as well.  Kirstie flew with me to California to visit my mom, and neither of us realized how much she’d be a tower of strength for me as I would swing between 8 year old and 48 year old Gina.  She was there for me when I cried, she validated my anger when I raged, and she encouraged me when I felt hopeless.  She saw her own grandmother struggle, and the compassion and empathy she displayed, the love she extended to the woman that used to hold and care for her as an infant was a blessing to behold.  The maturity in which she balanced the fact that this could be the last time she saw her grandma, while ALSO comforting her own mother as I dealt with this same realization……made me realize the dynamic of family is so complex and robust and strong and……and…….beautiful.

I could go on and on about each of the kids.  How Kenny seems to have radar and calls or texts me at the perfect time, knowing if I need to laugh or to talk or to just hear his voice.  How Josh speaks to me, even as a teenager that has a full social life and sometimes moms aren’t as cool, but still enjoys interacting with me.  How Zack always, always asks if I’ve had a good day, but more importantly follows up if I admit my day has been rough.  Sophia, who is truly a mini me, gets when I am stressed or feeling inadequate because I really DON’T have the answers or the solution, even though she’s only 12.  Through it all, even when I sit here watching that video and ponder where the time has gone, I must also admit these children that rely on me are also a huge support system.  They feed my soul and care for me in ways I never planned.  And, really, I thank God so much that He provided them to ME, that the very people I’ve taken care of for so many years have turned the table and are taking care of me.  It is weird and majestic and awesome.  And I am thankful for this, even if I just realized it.

2015 In Review

I suppose it’s not that original to create a blog entry to recap a year.  However, I do think it is a great exercise to focus on the blessings that have occurred, especially when so much online and in the news seems to focus on what is wrong in society.  Perhaps I’ve buried my head in the sand, but there WERE many great blessings for me 2015.

  • After Deana received her new awesome job at the end of 2014, we put our house on the market in Texas.  Selling during the winter/holiday season can be stressful, and I often worried that we’d be waiting for months for any real offers.  However, a little over a month on the market and we got a WONDERFUL offer that was honestly perfect.  Even with me being in Australia, we were able to push it through.
  • Concurrently, we also had found a wonderful home in Georgia, thanks to Tiffany who gave us a heads up about it!  The selling of our Texas home was the missing piece, and since that went through we were able to move forward with our relocation.  Moving with two families that are changing states can be a logistical nightmare, but in our case it was VERY smooth!  The dates worked out perfectly!  I thank your buyers as well as the sellers as they were very accommodating across the board.
  • Moving is never fun, and there were quite a few hiccups throughout the process, but looking back from the advantage point of “today” made me realize – in the scheme of things – everything went really okay.  We are settled in our beautiful home, we have more than what we need, and we have friends and family to love.  What more do we need?  AND, I so love living in “the country”!
  • January 2015 another work milestone was accomplished – our Australia locations went live on our ERP system.  This was a pretty big endeavor, and with the distance it made it quite interesting.  SO MANY were on the team for sure, and we had our hands full for a few months after they started, but as I look back I am very proud not only of the Aussie Staff, but for the IT Project Team that made it happen.  Blake, Cary, Tiffany, and Scott THANK YOU.
  • June 2015 kicked of the UK portion on the ERP system rollout.  Many faces continued on this leg and I have to admit this is probably the biggest and best rollout to date!  Internal staff absorbed many of the tasks and it has totally rocked.  We go live there in a few days and I am very hopeful.
  • On that note, I was very glad to add Matt to the mix, which is totally awesome.  He came from our vendor and rocks, except for his love for the Green Bay Packers.
  • Speaking of football, 2015 has proven to be a great year for the Vikings!  We made the playoffs and are tied with the Packers going into the post season.  While I am still being encouraged to consider switching alliances by becoming a Cheese Head, for now I am waiting for next Sunday to see who wins the GB-MN match up.  Purple, after all, is still my favorite color!  (Marisa and Sarah……green is not bad, I just apparently need more time to consider this and maybe walk more win prep for running from Deana!).
  • This year also proved to continue with the kids growing and maturing, despite my demands that they stop.  I cannot believe the old pics of the kids in comparison to their pictures today!  I am ALWAYS blessed when I look at them and am grateful that the Lord has placed them in my life.  ❤
  • Of course, there’s my hot wife.  We have continued to work our marriage (and, HA!, marriage can sometimes be WORK!), and I am forever thankful that the Lord has blessed our marriage and has reminded both of us to look through love, especially when “life” can be the biggest distraction.
  • I was able to have ALL my kids in my house during the holidays, which blesses me beyond words!!!!!

Our prayer for you today, the last day of 2015, is that you feel peace and love!  And we also pray that you feel and receive tons of blessings in 2016.  Happy New Year!

 

 

Being a Good Daughter

I will start this by saying, while overall I have always been a perfectionist, I have usually failed miserably.  I have gotten B’s on papers, disappointed people, made bad decisions, and otherwise “failed” at the whole perfection thing.  My view about myself changed dramatically when I accepted Christ at the age of 16, but the psychological drive to be perfect is much harder to let go.  But one area where I’ve always known I’ve done a pretty good job for most of my life is being a daughter.

I always followed the rules – I was a “good girl” who honored my parents.  I was respectful.  I was not promiscuous, I didn’t drink, and I certainly didn’t do drugs.  I did what they said and I didn’t ask WHY (at least not vocally) and believed the fact that they were my bosses.  I trusted their views in religion, politics, how family dynamics worked, and that their way of raising children was the norm.  And, truth be known, much of my childhood I look back on with fondness.  But it also is true that I was very much, by birth or otherwise, a child that wanted very much to please her parents.  I did whatever I could to make them proud of me, of the fact that I was their child and that they could know that I would do whatever I could to make THEM look good, as my parents.  And that worked for me well – I often heard they were proud of me, I was given what I perceived as more freedom and responsibility than my younger brother because of it.  And it made me want to work harder at conforming to the “image” that fed that acceptance and pride.

To be completely candid, I lived much of my life feeling as if I was the “favored child” in my family.

I also believed that my parents, especially my Dad, were the only people in the entire world that would love me NO MATTER WHAT.  I remember when I became a Christian and a few women shared that they had a hard time viewing Jesus as a loving God because they felt no love from their physical fathers, this thought was so foreign to me.  I mean, MY Dad loved me so so so much and so so so well that reaching out and accepting the love of Christ was very easy for me.  My Dad was the model for the love of Jesus in so many ways.

I don’t want to diminish that at all.  It was true and real and I am very thankful for the life I’ve been given.  And often these memories sustain me when all else looks bleak.

However, life is funny.  I am a grown woman now, and there are aspects of my life that are very different from that of my parents.  After years of being a diehard Republican, I am leaning (oh who am I kidding?  I’ve plunged in many ways) to a more liberal political agenda.  I am no longer living to please others with my life as much as I am being honest about my desires, views, feelings………not at the expense of others per se, but I am no longer a mirror to those around me as I agree with whatever so I can be “approved” or “accepted” by them.  I am honest about my sexuality and proclaim (or at least not deny) that I am in love with Deana and we are making a life together with our kids and our God and we are good people.  I am more honest now than I’ve ever been, even though that honesty has caused many around me to cut me out of their lives.

And yet, over the last two years especially, I’ve dealt with what I perceive to be the loss of a huge part of the love that has sustained me.  It was painful at first.  Oh, who am I kidding?  It’s still painful in many ways.  There are times when I say I understand and tell myself to just let it go, that it would be wrong for me to force key people in my life to love me – that my honesty about myself and my choices should not mean they have to accept them, although I had hoped they would continue to accept ME.  Then there are other times when I am angry – when I want to point out that I am the same person I’ve been for 43 years, the same honorable daughter, but that I happen to be a lesbian, and an honest one at that.  And then there are times when I want to say, like a little girl who used to be held in those arms that made me feel I was in the safest place in the world – I resent that you’ve taken this love from me and shattered my world.  I resent that you’ve broken this fairy tale for me in this way, and you haven’t even given me the opportunity of knowing WHY but instead cut me out of your life to the point where I no longer want to call and where even sending emails and texts are painful as I know you won’t return them.  But usually, I end up being angry at myself, because I let you control me even now, as a grown woman, and all really (as I perceive it) because I am the same person I have always been, but I no longer conform to what you expected of me.  Maybe I am wrong, but I have nothing else to base it on.

So, after analyzing this concept on and off for 24 or so months, I have come to the following conclusion – being a “good daughter” is not doing everything to please your parents, although there are times when you DO have to conform to household rules.  Being a good daughter is loving your parents, even when they do things you don’t agree with.  Being a good daughter is sharing memories with your own kids, and raising them with the qualities you appreciate and which you learned from your parents.  Being a good daughter is standing with pride knowing the heritage that is running through your veins, and which continues in your children as well.  Being a good daughter is loving your parents even when they have rejected you for whatever reason, and you don’t hold it against them anymore.  But it ALSO means letting go of the perceived guilt and no longer being held hostage to it. I am the same daughter I have always been, and I am proud of the person I am……..except I won’t let you treat me like I am 10 and no longer following your unspoken rules.

So, today I will feel the loss of you from my life – as I have pretty much everyday since this separation has happened – but I am no longer HELD by it.  Because today I will smile at the good times, be a little sad that you’ve chosen not to be involved in my life going forward, and will rest in the fact that I am loved AND accepted even now – by my wife, by my FIVE children, by my friends, and by my Jesus – NO MATTER WHAT.  And I am cool with that.  But I will always miss you.  And, if by chance someday you change your mind and want to interact with your daughter again, I will be here for you.

Wow, November’s the Time to Celebrate!!!!!

So, wow, it’s been nearly a year since Deana and I publicly proclaimed our love!  It’s hard to believe!!!!  To be reminded of the celebration details, or if you’ve never seen them, you can read our celebration blog from last year.  Sorry that we didn’t really update it at all after the ceremony.  🙂

This last year has been filled with some AMAZING moments, and lots of changes!  TEXAS tops that list!  My job continues to rock.  Deana also found a job working for the City of Dallas – whoot!  Kirstie moved to Nebraska (Nebraska!), Kenny is now as tall as me and is anxious to grow more, Josh has joined a chorale, Zack has made A Honor Roll twice, and Sophia has rocked the soccer field.  AND love has continued as strong as ever across the board.  I can speak for myself and say that I’ve never loved Deana more and I feel a contentment with her (my soulmate) that is so wonderful, I really don’t have words to explain it.  I realize that some people just don’t get that, and it’s okay.  Really, the truth is I’ve had a fantastic life filled with amazing memories, but all those memories turned to HD once I met Deana.  I AM HAPPY and so are my kids!  And that’s all that matters to me.

For those of you who missed these or are feeling like torturing yourself, here are the videos that were shown at our ceremony during the time Deana and I had to be photographed for memory sake.  I know some of you were also not aware I had uploaded them to Youtube.  🙂  Enjoy.

(Hint for viewing videos – if they’re too small, you can either double click them to go to YouTube, or click the little button at the bottom right of the video screen to make it full screen)

Video 1 – The Early Years

(Song: Tangerine Tree by Tamila & Elina)

Video 2 – Life Continues

(Song: Watching My World Walk By, by Tyrone Wells)

Video 3 – Adding to the Family

(Song: Victory (Mike Batt Mix) by Bond)

Video 4 – Craziness

(Note in BMX segment a 5-year-old passed me with no problem……)

Video 5 – Continuing Forever

(Song: To Know Love by Little Big Town)

Happy Anniversary Deana!  I love you!!!

P.S.  We have SO many anniversaries, it’s not even funny!  4/20, 9/10, 9/11 (oops, not 9/12 that is Kirstie’s bday oops!), and finally 11/22.  (I think I am missing some……UPDATED duh yeah!  7/3 we got engaged sheesh)  We must like parties!  🙂