Saturday, November 27, 2010
I felt the need to ready the house for her arrival. The need or excuse to nest again perhaps? Making sure her room was neat, but as she left it. I stocked the fridge with 'teen' food I don't eat and fruit which I know she probably never eats. I put more pillows on her bed to make it look comfy and fluffy. (In looking back on her first moments back in the house- 'the same' was important. She was looking for things to look the same. I was glad they did. I think considering all the past years changes and moves the house was more a home because it was the same.)
I cleaned the house like crazy- I don't know why as she's hardly a 'guest' - and put out new towels for her anyway ( even though no one had used the previous ones on the rack since I first replaced them months ago). I took the day off to bake those cookies for sensory memory provocation (fresh baked cookie smell), and make the requested chocolate peanut butter butterscotch rice krispie treats she was looking forward to finding in the fridge. I bought balloons to greet her and drove as fast and as safely as I could to the airport.
For me it was a Hallmark moment. Its funny how no one else manages to exist the moment your 'person' proceeds toward you on arrival from the gate. I yelled, "Katie!" completely lost in my emotion and moment, unconcerned that anyone else was in the area. She cried when she saw me and we hugged like we put years of separation behind us and not months. I was glad she was home and she was glad too.
Then I thrust the balloon in her hand. Yes it was a bit embarrassing for her, but she knows how I like to celebrate her so I hope she is seeing that part over the embarrassing part. The symbolism a balloon at this moment... It was a welcome home, but also a symbol of a tradition from years ago. Beginning 13 years ago when she stepped of the school bus for the first time and I greeted her coming home with a bright yellow smiley face balloon.
Every year after the first school year, I celebrated subsequent first days of school for her. Whether coming home on the bus, or picking her up from school, the first day was celebrated. The first year she drove to school on her own as a Junior in high school, because of the divorce, I had gone back to work and would not be home to greet her with the traditional treat. So during my lunch time, I drove to school and I left one for her on the front seat of her car while she was in class. The funny thing was when she found the box in her car at the end of the school day, she thought it was left by mistake and meant for someone else, so she turned it in to the office. However, having never checked the card herself, fearing she would violate the the recipients privacy and surprise, the secretary confirmed for her that the gift was meant for Katie. The tradition was saved even that year. We talked about the first day when I got home from work.
The distance and timing of the first day at college presented other challenges to physically celebrating our reuniting after the first day. I will cherish her phoning me after her first class of college and hearing the century old KU steam whistle signal the end of class in the background during the call. But I missed being with her.
So this homecoming was also a postponed traditional celebration of her first 'day' at school. And the reunion after her first day.... neither time or distance managed to diminish for us. The greatest gift of parenting - celebrating forever firsts.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
In our circle of daily life, we are mindful of the necessities and tend to stay automated in actions and conversations with our daily duties and mingling acquaintances. I love to learn about the hidden talents, careers, service, and personal inspiration stories we miss in our local personal circles. The world is vast and when people share their stories or uniqueness, life comes to new light. Like fountain pen collectors, typographical error hunters, the truth about Houdini. I don't know about you, but those are not topics I would randomly think to research. Yet the stories that come from them and topics like them are intriguing.
One story stayed with me last week and got me thinking. The story involved noted writers of obituaries. These are talented writers who write about the dead for a living. OK, I don't want to lose you in your train of thought heading to the morbid light, so I will get to the destination point. What I was particularly drawn to was the professional creative element of a sort of tag line for each decedent's column. In one sentence the reader is given a thought provoking few words about the departed that they are about to reflect about. These writers are breathing new life into an ordinary custom. (Excuse the pun.)
It got me thinking about what one sentence would be used to head up my obituary?
The new breed obit writer is resurrecting what would seem like a dead-end job. (Oops sorry again...) The writer contacts the departed's family and interview them. From the interview they 'learn' about the ingredients that contributed to the life they are about to reflect on and share with those who knew him. From all the data, they come up with a one line tag to open the obit. Then the obit is full of anecdotes, compliments, and a summary worthy of a Pulitzer. Jim Sheeler even went so far as to pen a book called Obit: Inspiring Stories of Ordinary People Who Led Extraordinary Lives, filled with some of his best obituaries. I guess that sums up another point. All of us think we lead ordinary lives, but in the end I bet we are each extraordinary.
What would your sentence be?
There is a Society of Professional Obituary Writers. They highlight members and some of their work. Examples included: Herbert "Herbie" Speach, a man who cashed in without the world owing him a dime. And, Sarah Hanton, a woman of mystery and magic and God.
You know the song that has the lyric, "Live like you were dieing?" Well, while you are 'living' remember someone will write your last sentence or give a writer the summary to create one. The last sentence.... the thing that ties it all together.
I hope I can leave enough positive irony in life for a good read. I don't want a boring last sentence. I hope my daughter is proud of me especially. I want people to smile when they read it.
Yikes, I don't want this post to be my irony! So off I go to be extraordinary or doing something worthy of earning a good last sentence.