Saying goodbye to my Mamaw

I’m struggling to blog these days, even though I have a lot of words in my head and things I want to get typed out and posted. I’m in the middle of yet another Rheumatoid Arthritis flare and am struggling to walk – for the second time this year – so I’m not in the best headspace. BUT it’s Christmastime (specifically, it’s Christmas Eve by the time I’m getting this posted), and I will always seek to find the joy in this beautiful season.


First and foremost, though, I’m mourning my wonderful grandmother, Lila, who passed away on Sunday, December 4, at 88 years old. I was able to finally go home to Indiana in mid-November (more on that later), and I got to see Mamaw while I was there. She was almost immobile, struggling to walk, and was so frail and weak, but her dementia allowed her to have a “good” day and she knew who I was, which was a blessing. She went into the hospital the day after I flew home, and then she moved into hospice a week later due to renal failure. She passed away peacefully with my mom, grandfather, and uncle by her side. I was able to attend her funeral via livestream, which I appreciated. Mamaw was from a different generation – deferring to my grandpa for decisions and going along with them even if she disagreed – but she was a model of the kind of person to be. Kind. Caring. Loving. Gentle. Addicted to Dairy Queen ice cream 😄. A excellent cook. A woman of deep. Deep faith. She was a lovely human, and I will miss her forever. I also can’t stop thinking about my grandfather, who is now alone for the first time in almost seven decades. They would’ve celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in late January.

Second, I’m thinking a lot about how my grandparents were so influential, even without my realizing it, in choosing the Church of the Nazarene as our denomination. My grandparents were Baptists when my mom was a kid and even when I was born, but they joined the Nazarene church well over 30 years ago now. I remember it causing a minor scandal in the family at the time since nobody really knew what the Nazarenes believed and assumed they were “holy rollers,” but my grandparents found happiness and spiritual support at their Nazarene church. Part of the reason I explored the denomination was due to their influence. So now that Mamaw is gone, I’m feeling blessed and honored that this, too, is my denomination and where we’ve found happiness with deep spiritual support.

Finally – it’s Christmas Eve! Here’s this year’s Christmas tree (pretty similar to last year). Despite our sadness, I still very much love this holiday and the beauty of the season!

I have some exciting news to share, and lots of thoughts stored up, so I hope to blog more in 2023, although I’m about to get A LOT busier (more to come!)

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL WHO READ THIS!

Our tree – 2022

Saying goodbye to our sweet girl

Roxie loved to barter. She would steal whatever she could find – her dad’s sock, my glasses case, a random piece of paper she found on the floor – and then wiggled her butt and wagged her tail with vigor as she waited for the “trade” to take place. We would meet on the rug in the living room, and I would get her an Alpo Snap in exchange for whatever treasure she pilfered.

This was our dance for years. At least twice a day, Roxie bartered.

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Let’s talk food storage!

My husband and I are not preppers. We don’t prescribe to that way of life or the belief systems that are usually associated with it. (Let’s be honest here – I don’t know a lot of Jewish preppers.) That being said, we still believe in food storage. Along with the regular, off-the-shelf items we keep, we have a three(ish) month supply of meat in our freezers. We also keep six-month supply of emergency food from The Ready Store. Half of that is kept here at home, while the other half is in our travel trailer. Additionally, we keep a fair amount of emergency supplies in both places.

Why do we do this, even if we don’t prescribe to the prepper lifestyle?

Well, a few reasons, really. Continue reading

To make things right. Or not?

I am always filled with a sense of renewal and excitement during the Days of Awe*. Granted, the High Holy Days* usually occur in early fall, when the temperatures are dropping, the rains are returning, and the leaves are beginning their transition. Considering Fall is my favorite season here in the Pacific Northwest, when it’s combined with the High Holy Days, it brings an unbeatable combination of rejuvenation, hope, and purpose into my life.

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Forgiveness. Can you imagine?

I haven’t blogged much lately, but in my defense, I was just promoted and have been very, very busy. I’m extremely grateful for the promotion and the generous raise that came with it, but it does require more work to be at this new level and I realize that. I used to be a prolific writer and blogger, but my career took a turn four years ago and I’ve struggled with finding time to write ever since.  That’s likely to continue!

All that being said, I just went through my first experiences with the Jewish High Holy Days and it affected me profoundly. I have been struggling finding the right synagogue, and there aren’t a lot around here to choose from in the first place, but the one I was attending is no longer palatable. The rabbi I’m studying under, who was at the helm of that synagogue, has left and, out of loyalty to her and disgust with the leadership there, I haven’t gone back.  This frustration, though, led me to a synagogue about 25 minutes away that I now know will be my future home for Jewish life and worship. Rosh Hashanah services there were absolutely breathtaking. My old synagogue was tiny, like being in someone’s living room, but this new place is large, with pews and the most gorgeous, two story ark that holds the Torah. They also have a choir that sings in Hebrew (of course). This music, combined with the prayers, moved me greatly. Rosh Hashanah is now my favorite Jewish holiday, but Yom Kippur is the one that affected me the most.  

The time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called the Days of Awe. It’s a time to “get right” with those we have had strife and struggle with over this past year. As Yom Kippur approached and then passed, one person kept appearing in my head, over and over again: my brother. Continue reading

Becoming Jewish: the Christmas conundrum

Me + Christmas tree, 1981

Me + Christmas tree, 1981

Lately, my conversations with my mom have gone a little like this:

Mom: “I sure would love to come out and visit again.”

Me: “I’d love for you to see western Washington in the fall.”

Mom: “I’d really love to come out and celebrate Christmas with you.”

Me: “No more Christmases for me, remember?”

Mom: *sounds of crying into her iPhone*

OR

Mom: “I saw the cutest thing I wanted to buy you for Christmas, and then I remembered that I couldn’t…”

Me: “Hanukkah starts on Christmas Eve this year, Mom. You can buy gifts if you want.”

Mom: *cheerfully* Okay!

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You can go home again, but maybe you shouldn’t…

Have you ever had one of those experiences that really just defy words? At least, right away? I went home to Indiana for a week and only recently got back to Washington, and I’ve been trying to wrap my head around my trip. I discovered something pretty profound, at least to me: they say you can’t go home again, but I don’t believe that’s true. You can, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to feel like home anymore.

We moved from Indianapolis to Seattle last August. Last September, my parents moved out of the house they’d lived in for 29 years. When I headed to their house after arriving at the Indianapolis airport, I was driving to an unfamiliar house in a town I’d never been in. There was no “going home.” In fact, home was gone.

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