On Friday night we celebrated my oldest sister Judy with a surprise 70th birthday party. Our beautiful and younger-than-70-looking sister was totally surprised. We all gathered in our living room with pizza, turning off the lights and leaving only the Christmas tree on and a couple of candles burning that gave the room a radiant feel. We then asked everyone to take a turn and share a memory about Judy. We all took our turn teasing, laughing and learning some new things about our older sister until the conversation changed to the subject of our family. When it came to Mary’s fiancé Jim Bozell’s turn, he said he didn’t have a story solely about Judy but instead he told about the unconditional love of the whole Beckman family that he has witnessed since he and Mary have been together. He said it is unusual to see this type of love.
After everyone left I felt proud and happy that we could gather together without tears and leave some of our worries and the dark cloud of ALS parked outside the door, at least for a night.
I read this today in Fr. Richard Rohr’s meditation and can really relate to it.
“In my deepest wound I found you, Lord, and it dazzled me.”
Every Saturday morning Bryan calls to take our order for Brooklyn Bagels or Ryke’s Bakery. Ever since my childhood, Long Johns from Ryke’s have been a special treat because of the delicious vanilla cream they put in the middle. After it became difficult for me to swallow Bryan continued to bring them over and feed me just the vanilla cream out of the center being very careful not to get any of the donut mixed in for fear I would choke. Last Saturday Bryan somehow arrived with just the cream.
Thank you, Bryan. You are my favorite.
My cousin Darleen Vanderberg organized another great family reunion one Sunday evening at the Northside Pub. This year she included some of our second cousins, the Willick family. The banquet room was filled with relatives getting reacquainted and sharing pictures and stories. I hope everyone felt as much love in the room as I felt. That night on the way home my thoughts drifted back to some great childhood memories.
I remember our family reunions playing baseball with our cousins and being so nervous that I wouldn’t be able to catch or hit the ball as well as they all could. I remember Uncle Clarence and Aunt Hazel always bringing Kentucky Fried Chicken as their dish to pass and thinking they must be rich. I remember Grandma Beckman’s brown eggs at Easter and popcorn balls at Christmas. I loved hearing Uncle Bob’s laugh and Auntie Ann’s quick wit and honesty. I remember having adult-like conversations with Aunt Beattie and her never being in a hurry to end our conversation and Aunt Irene always taking a special interest in what we were involved in at school.
One of my favorite memories as a young adult was when Uncle Lee and Auntie Sis surprised Mark and I in Baltimore a few months after we were married. They were traveling by motorhome with their good friends Zeek and Violet and decided to visit us as they made their way back home to Michigan. That same day Mark’s sisters Vicki and Patti arrived for a short visit. They were headed to Florida for Vicki’s spring break and decided to detour to Baltimore to visit us. After everyone got acquainted we decided to go to dinner. Mark was working and wouldn’t be home until the next morning so I was a little nervous thinking how am I going to entertain two completely different groups of guests. Well, I should not have worried because it turned out to be a very fun night. After dinner we all went back to our apartment and Mark’s sisters made an alcoholic drink called Hop, Skip and Go Naked and we colored some beer green because it was St. Patrick’s Day and played a card game called Spoons and laughed like crazy. The next morning Mark came home from work so he could spend a little time with our company before they went on their way. After everyone left I felt a new closeness to my Aunt and Uncle and my sister-in-laws and we gained a couple of new friends in Zeek and Violet.
Ever since my feeding tube surgery I’ve been sleeping on our couch in the living room with Mark sleeping next to me in the La-Z-Boy. While Corey was home for Thanksgiving last week he decided to camp out with Mark and I on the living room floor next to me on the couch. This was a welcomed break for Mark from having to fulfill my many requests during the night to reposition my lifeless body to a more comfortable position.
While Corey was lying next to me he reached up to hold my hand and it reminded me of when our kids were young and would wake up in the middle of the night and come into our room with their blankets and pillows. They would lie on the floor on my side of the bed and when they were nestled in, all comfy and safe, I would hang my arm over the side of the bed and hold their hand.
Now I know how loved they felt.