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Stories about life and family. 

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Ann

Everyone has flaws.  One of mine is that I have always held on to the past and worried about the future and what could happen.  A smart person would understand that when you do that you miss out on what's important. 

Today.

I'm a smart person but I've been a slow learner.  Since retiring I have been working on that little flaw in my personality.  It's taking some work because, as people who know me can confirm, I can be very stubborn.  On the plus side, once I make up my mind to do something I do it.

So I've made up my mind to focus on today, the here and now.  

To recognize the daily blessings that are sometimes missed because of holding on to the past or worry about tomorrow.

This may sound kind of corny to some, but when I woke Easter morning my first thought was "This is the day the Lord has made, be happy and rejoice".  

I said a "thank you" for the simple fact that I woke to a new day, grateful for the ability to experience whatever the day may bring.  I enjoyed the simple pleasure of morning coffee with my husband as we watched the news and chatted about this and that.  

As I began preparations for Easter dinner I ignored aching joints, realizing that despite those aches and pains, I was still able to move about.  Arthritis is a bitch but it could be worse.  A couple of Advil and it was on to the next task. 

I consciously felt the pleasure of making preparations to celebrate with my family.  Anticipating their arrival and the chaos that comes with a home full of people who care about each other.  A blessing that some don't experience.

Our eldest son and his family were the first to stop in for a visit before traveling to join our daughter-in-law's family for Easter dinner.  They brought me a beautiful Easter lily, an Easter bread and ricotta pie.  Years ago I had tried making this pie without success.  Thankfully, my eldest daughter-in-law makes a delicious ricotta pie.  In turn I surprised them with candy that I made for my adult kids and Easter bags I put together for the grandchildren with their $2.00 bill.  Years ago my mother started the tradition of giving her grandchildren a $2.00 bill at Easter and I have continued that tradition with my grandchildren.   I also surprised my daughter-in-law with two containers of pipi salad, something my own mother-in-law used to make.  Her pleased smile made me happy and I enjoyed that moment.

My eldest grandson was my taste tester for the mashed potatoes since I've been unable to taste much due to a slight medical issue.  He gave me the thumbs up and asked that I save him any leftovers.  I happened to have one of his Mom's empty containers so I filled it with mashed potatoes and handed it to him.  That got me another big smile.  Something so simple but it lightened my heart and I count that as a blessing.

Our middle and youngest sons and their families joined us for dinner.  It's easier to set up buffet style so everyone can help themselves, including the grandkids.  No pressures about what you eat or don't eat.  Being able to share that meal together is another blessing I'm grateful for.  I love to hear the sounds of their voices as converations flow.  I enjoy listening to them as they tease each other and the resulting laughter.  The weather co-operated and the kids were able to play outside and enjoy their own time together.

Later, after everyone had gone home, I spent time cleaning the kitchen and getting dishes done.  As strange as it may sound, washing dishes relaxes me.  As I stood at the sink I thought about the day and all it's little pleasures and blessings.   

I remembered watching our youngest grandson eating cabbage salad.  No biggie you'd think but it reminded me of last Christmas and how he ended up taking the bowl off the kitchen counter, climbing into a chair in the living room and eating the cabbage salad directly from the bowl.   I watched him eat his Easter dinner and saw how he dipped his dinner roll and ham into the cabbage salad realizing he thought it was a dip.  It's a vegetable but I'm not tellin him.

I remembered the look on my granddaughter's face as I handed her her "Easter toast" as one of my grandsons called it.  She thinks Mammy makes the best toast. 

I smiled as I remembered grandson #3 asking me if a lamp emits light or sucks dark which I learned later had something to do with a meme.   His Dad took exception to what he was saying and asked him if he wanted to do laps around the back field.  I calmly advised my son that since my grandson was talking to me he could say or ask what ever he wanted; it was our conversation.  Dad just smiled at his sons' teasing comments about Dad's Mom getting after him.   

While washing a roasting pan I found my self chuckling as I remembered a moment with grandson #5.  His Mom had made a cake for dessert and it wasn't until after the cake was served that I remembered I had made a cherry cheese pie.  My youngest son doesn't care for cake so I always make this pie for holiday meals.  As I was cutting the pie grandson #5, who loves cheese cake, was standing next to me.  

"Would you like a piece" I asked him. 

"I've already had a piece of cake and my Dad would say no" he answered while looking at the pie.

"I didn't ask what your Dad would say, I asked what you wanted".  The look on his face said he wanted a piece of pie so I cut a small piece for him. 

"Come into the living room" I said after handing him his pie, "I'll take care of your Dad".  He wasn't taking any chances, however, and ate his pie standing at the kitchen counter.   Sorry Dad, Grandma's house, Grandma's rules.

I've come to realize how freeing it is to be able to enjoy the here and now.  To not dwell on the past or worry about what tomorrow may bring.  It's like a weight has been lifted that you weren't aware you were carrying.  Certainly there are times when I slip into old habits and my mind starts to wander into the "what if" territory of tomorrow or the regrets and sorrow of the past.  I won't let myself go there anymore because I've felt the simple enjoyment of today and I like it.  I've talked with Hubby about this and he's offered me a free kick in the ass whenever necessary.   

It's easy to find your blessings each and every day when you take the time to look for them. 

I'm eagerly looking for mine, are you?

 

 

All rights reserved.  I hope you enjoyed my story but please remember it's my story so no using or copying any content in any manner without the express written permission of the owner....me.

 

Ann

A Stitch In Time

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I started this piece of embroidery early August, 1973.  At that time I was a young 19-year-old bride of 7 months living in Iceland with my husband who was stationed at the Naval Base at Grindavek.  We did not qualify for base housing so we lived in an apartment in Keflavik.  I absolutely loved the whole experience and totally embraced the new adventure of living in a different country.  Our apartment was modest but the view from our living room window was priceless; the Atlantic Ocean in all it’s glory and I remember thinking I’d never take that view for granted or forget.  I shopped at the local stores, including going to the fish market every day for the catch of the day.  Our mail came through the military base but I’d stop at the local Post Office just to visit with any one who was there at the time.  Conversation was never a problem once it was apparent I was an American; they were as fascinated about Americans as I was about them.  Our neighbors were wonderful, friendly people who always welcomed us into their homes with such hospitality and graciousness. Icelandic was not easy to speak but I did my best and was never made to feel foolish when I inevitably butchered their language.  I’d receive smiles from the shop keepers or the person I was speaking with and then they would help with the words and phrasing.  Since the winter nights were so long in Iceland you would have many different hobbies to help keep you busy.  A neighbor introduced me to the art of embroidery and instead of starting out with something simple as she suggested I picked this ambitious piece.   It was so large that I had to use a standing frame to hold the piece.  She told me that as I worked my tapestry the back should be as neat as the front so I began working slowly and carefully.

When it was time to return to the States I only had a small portion done but I wasn’t worried, I was young and had plenty of time to get it finished.    Time, however, had other ideas and before I knew it 5 years had gone by and I hadn’t touched my tapestry.  I remember setting up my frame and working on the tapestry, watching my toddlers play as I carefully stitched away.  I’d set it aside then return to work on it every so often.  Life happens, you get busy, and before I knew it more years passed by so quickly.  It was not finished when my Dad died in 1982 at the age of 47.  At that time I had just about completed the left half of the tapestry to the lady’s shoulders.  I no longer had the heart to work on my tapestry so I packed everything up and put it away in the attic.

More years passed so quickly and before I knew it our sons had graduated High School and eventually left home to start their own lives.    Sometime during the mid 1990’s I was going through photo albums and came across pictures of our time in Iceland.  Seeing those photos reminded me of my tapestry packed away in the attic all those years ago.  I found it, set up my frame, and again began working on my tapestry.  Watching my needle go in and out, filling each space with colored yarn, I gradually realized that when I was working on my tapestry I didn’t think about anything else.  Concentrating on each stitch relaxed my mind.  I worked slowly, trying to complete my stitches so that the back of the tapestry was as neat as the front, just as my friend from so long ago advised.  I changed jobs during this time period so again work on my tapestry was haphazard at best but I kept it close at hand.  Again the years flew by and before I knew it, we had celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.   Our sons married giving us daughters and within a couple of years we were blessed with the arrival of our grandchildren.  There were parties, holidays, celebrations and sometimes painful goodbyes to more loved ones.   Health scares, happy times, harsh words, not so happy times, tears and laughter.  So much simple day-to-day life happened as I worked on my tapestry every now and then, stitch by stitch.

By April, 2010, my tapestry was almost finished except for several rows in the upper right hand corner.   Mom died April 14th that year,  and though I still can’t explain why, this urgency came over me to finish my tapestry.  I quickly realized I didn’t have enough of the colored yarn for that section of my tapestry so off to Michaels I went, sample in hand, to try to match the color.  I wasn’t able to match it exactly but I did find a color that was close enough.  To this day, when I look at my tapestry I can see the color difference in that section and I am always reminded of Mom.  When I told my husband it was done and showed him the completed piece he praised my work.  While the back wasn’t as neat as my long ago Icelandic friend said it should be, he made me feel as if I were Monet and had completed a masterpiece.  He told me we had to have it properly framed and that’s what he did.  We took it to a professional framer and I remember how excited the gentleman was to work with such a large piece of embroidery.  “You don’t see pieces like this very often these days” he said and recommended  the use of conservator glass to protect the colors of my  tapestry from fading due to sunlight.  It took time to pick out the wooden frame and the colors of the matte finish to compliment the colors in my embroidery.  I don’t know why, but I remember shedding some tears on the drive home the day we picked up the finished piece from the framer’s shop.

Seven years later my tapestry hangs on our bedroom wall and as I look at it I realize that each stitch, from start to finish, represents 37 years of my life.  I’m reminded of our time in Iceland, the early years of our marriage, the births of our children and their growing years.  I look at different parts of my tapestry and I’m able to remember certain events in my life both happy and sorrowful.  Until I started this story, however, I also realize that I never really saw the beauty of the piece as my husband did.  What I saw was failure because it took so many years to complete something that I had started so very long ago. Not any more.

My tapestry represents a life….mine.  I am as much a part of that tapestry as the colored yarn that makes up the picture because looking at it now, I remember my desire to create something beautiful when I selected this very ambitious piece all those years ago. Viewing it with different eyes, I also see that it contains my hopes and dreams through all those long years.  There is heartache, joy and life in my tapestry.  Different parts of the picture hold the tears I sometimes cried while working, soaking into the yarn and becoming a permanent part of my tapestry.  My tapestry has absorbed all the love shared during those 37 years, and I now see, as my husband always did, something of beauty, something that holds a part of me in each and every stitch.  I accomplished my desire of long ago to create something beautiful and despite time I did it…..one stitch at a time.

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