Monday, May 30, 2011

Love letters.

There's nothing quite like a love letter.

My daddy used to write me little notes and I never knew how much they meant to me at the time. He had one specific phrase he'd use (no, I'm not going to say it -- it's cheesy and that's why I love it) and I'd get all embarrassed then...but now, the memory just warms my heart.  I realize now that it also made me know that he did the same thing for my mom even if I never saw them. I still have the one he wrote me when we found out we were going to have a baby (he suggested twins).

When I traveled out of the country for work when my daughter was about six, I left a series of notes hidden around the house. I think she found them all before I got back and it made the time go much faster for her. And every first day of school warrants a note in her lunch bag. Even now, if I'm gone more than a night or two, I'll often leave a note on a mirror.

But there's something different about a love letter -- the one that's only between you and the love of your life. Not a pre-printed card, not one required by a birthday or anniversary, but the one that shows up unexpectedly and touches some part of your soul. It can be a single sentence or 100 sentences, but the effect is the same -- bonds are renewed, hurts are healed, laughs are shared.

Maybe it's because I love words and writing. Maybe it's because it's so hard to find time for conversation without distractions. But I'll take heartfelt words on a page over jewelry every time.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Yesterday was my sister's birthday. I actually mailed her card on time, at least if the Post Office is still working on Saturdays. I just wanted to let her know I'm glad she was born.

She's older than me by seven years. That means for a very long time we had pretty much nothing in common. I was just the kid she had to keep an eye on when she was in middle school, and I talked too much (shocking, I know). I was in elementary school when she got married, and in junior high when she had her first child. [That was cool, though, because I got to be an aunt before all my friends.] By the time I graduated high school, she had three kids, a husband, a house...and I went off to college.

At some point in college, that adage about age differences mattering less as you get older really became true. Her marriage ended and she moved back to our hometown, while I was the one away. Within a few years, I was married and a mom to two boys. She married a wonderful man exactly one month after me. We took a couple of vacation weekends together and had a blast. Spending weekends together doing nothing is one of my favorite things, and it doesn't happen often enough.

We are about as different as it's possible to be. I'm the planner/organizer, she's the seat-of-her-pants girl. I was the uptight, do it perfectly parent; she was the relaxed, "it'll all work out fine" parent. I don't think I've ever told her how much I wanted to be more like her.

Talking to a sister is unlike talking to anyone else. She may not know every event of your life, but she knows your heritage and history. She knows what you run from and what you run to. She knows the look in your eye and the tone in your voice that anyone else would miss. I can fake my way through most things with most people, but not her.

No one can push your buttons like a sister, either. Whether you're 5, 15, or 50, she knows right where those pressure points are. Of course, you know hers, too. I'd like to think that as you get older, you are wiser about when and why you push them, but still...

If you have a sister, I hope you have a good relationship with her. If you don't have one by blood, I hope you have a really good sister-friend. If you've lost a sister, my heart goes out to you. That is not a loss I know, and one I cannot imagine.

I'm lucky enough to get to call my sister every week and talk about nothing, or something, or some of both. It's one of the highlights of my week.

Happy birthday week, sis.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Patience, Grasshopper.

I just watched a driver go around railroad crossing arms or bars or whatever those things are called.

Full Discolosure #1: I live in a suburb where the railroad tracks are one of the, if not THE, biggest pains for the residents of this area. I've been regularly delayed by 10 minutes, with my maximum trip time extended by over an hour due to the layout and lack of alternate routes to certain places. Going around the barricades is a huge temptation, especially when they are obviously malfunctioning.

Full Disclosure #2: I have a huge fear of trains, or, more accurately, being hit by one. In my first couple of years as a licensed driver, I remember only one set of tracks in my home town and I didn't have to cross them often. But I was plagued by recurring nightmares about them, convinced that this would be how I'd meet my Maker. I hate when those flashing red lights go off because even crossing the tracks BEFORE the bars come down sends me into a panic.

So today, I watched a train car mover thingy -- not a locomotive, just one of those "take it from here to there" machines -- pulling no more than 10 flatbed cars. Sure, it was slow, but you could see both ends and it was a total of maybe 3 minutes wait. The instant the last train car cleared the intersection, the van next to me darted around the bar. Ten seconds later, the bars lifted. The funny? There's a traffic light just on the other side, so I was right next to the van again.

I started thinking. There are two sets of tracks there -- what if another train had been coming from the other direction and couldn't be seen? Would those 10 seconds have been worth it? It didn't take long to make the leap to the many times I show my own lack of patience. Just because that particular action isn't one I'd tend to do doesn't mean I can feel all self-righteous.

Need an example? I give up on diets because the pounds don't jump off as fast as they seem to jump on. I talk over people because they aren't getting to the point fast enough, or saying it the way I think they should. I get frustrated at clients for changing their minds or not following directions. I want change and I want it now.

In the last week, dear friends saw the greatest desire of their hearts granted when a child was placed with them for adoption. After years of trying, hoping,  wondering why, and finally completing the paperwork, they had to wait yet again after they were approved. It was the longest month of the previous ten years, I'm sure. And now, they've got six months to finalization. That's patience. That's faith. That's perseverence.

If I can remember this little lesson every time I see the railroad tracks, just maybe I can grow in that area of my life. And you can bet I won't be going around railroad bars.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Random stuff.

One of my blogging friends does a Tuesday Ten list (waving furiously at Gini). That's not what this is, but I'm feeling pretty random, so here's a list of stuff for today.
  • There is nothing better than watching people you love have their prayers answered. When those answered prayers are going to result in unbelievable blessings for a baby that doesn't even know it yet -- well, that's just the icing on the cake.
  • My mother cracks me up. She never fails to share some miscellaneous piece of information she heard or saw or got on email that is just hysterical. Here's a sample:
  • I'm not political. I won't suddenly become political just because of the news about Bin Laden. I will say I've got a little bit of "the devil you know" anxiety going on. What will al Qaeda feel driven to do to prove they're still a force?
  • Our country has not done and can never do enough to say thank you to the men and women of our military. Ever. But we should try harder.
  • I loved Water for Elephants - the novel. I am not a Robert Pattinson fan; I am a Reese Witherspoon fan. I generally dislike the movies made from books (Harry Potter, anyone?). So do I bother with the movie?
  • This spring has done nothing to help my fear of tornadoes. Seeing the destruction in Alabama and points east is heart-breaking. Is it just me, or do the natural disasters just seem to keep piling up?
  • I did not get up at 3am to watch the royal wedding last week. I watched the video, and it was beautiful. William and Kate looked happy and nervous -- and her "Oh wow" as she stepped onto the balcony was my favorite part. Yes, sweetie, this is your life.
  • Sometimes keeping your mouth shut is the best option. I had to practice that for almost two entire days, for various reasons. And then I called in sick because of a headache -- coincidence?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Catching up.

I was thinking the other day about catching up with old friends, say ones you haven't really talked to in 10 years or more. With Facebook, it probably happens a lot more than it used to. How do you decide what's worth sharing from your life, when minutiae is not really the point? So I started thinking of a top 10 list of those things that really define my life. Those things that, if Oprah asked me why I am the way I am, I wouldn't hesitate to list as the biggest influences on my life in the last 15 years or so. Some are obvious, I think...and I'll bet this list will change over time. But right now:

6. Changing jobs in 2005

5. Going to India in 2002

4. Deciding to go back to church in 1998

3. Reagann's birth in 1995

2. Daddy's death in 1999

1. Zac's death in 2002

Hm. Now that I actually write them down I can only come up with 6 real ones. That's something to think about.

What will I add in the next 10 years? What will come off this list?
What's on your list?