Today I visited my Dad. He lives 3 1/2 hours from me so I got up early and drove from my house in New Jersey down to Maryland. I haven’t see him in person since Christmas 2019 because of Covid, (aren’t we all tired of saying that?) but now that he and his wife are vaccinated, and I am too, I wanted to see him. My husband has not yet been vaccinated so I made the round trip solo.
My dad will turn 86 later this week and although I am 55 he still worries about me driving alone. I never really understood why he worried about me so much, but now that all three of my girls drive I completely get it. Even when I was young he would always ask me to call as soon as I got home and I would, but often calling him would slip my mind until long after I was home. Today as soon as I pulled into the driveway I called him. I have a new appreciation for the worry he has for me.
Of course after visiting him, I now worry about him. In many ways he is still the same dad as always. He likes to eat food he shouldn’t. He is quiet but he knows what is going on. He loves living on the water and he likes to talk about real estate. Although he and my mother were divorced when I was young, he has given me a sense of stability throughout my life. He is ALWAYS there for me if I call and I know he loves me. Over the last decade he has had some pretty significant health issues and I can see that they have taken a physical toll on him. He doesn’t complain about his issues aside from the occasional “It’s hard to get old” and “I can’t believe I am old enough to have a daughter who is 55”. Of course, he takes a lot longer to get from one place to another and getting in and out of the car is harder for him than it used to be. But I also know that I am so lucky to still have him.
We live in a neighborhood in New Jersey that has many deer roaming about. When fawns are born and before they are strong enough to keep up with the mama, the baby is left alone while the mom goes off to feed. The mother deer will stay away from the fawn so that predators won’t be drawn to the baby. The mom returns at dawn and dusk to feed the baby and will sometimes move it to another location.
Last spring we noticed that a baby deer was placed by its mom in the middle of our yard. My two youngest daughters were home from college (Thanks Covid) so we were all home to witness this. At first we mistook it for a brown spot in our yard but soon we realized it was actually a new born fawn. My baby animal loving daughters wanted to get close to get a picture but I told them they couldn’t go close to it. I was afraid that they would scare it or scare the mother away when she decided to return. The following day we noticed the baby was gone so we figured the mom had moved on with her baby. However we were incorrect.
The following night we used our grill to cook hot dogs and hamburgers. It was a warm spring evening and the four of us were having a leisurely dinner on the porch. Even our dog, Daisy, was enjoying her time on our screened in porch. As dinner ended my husband decided to go out onto the deck to make sure he turned off the grill. Daisy never goes out the screen door but she pushed her way through and ran to the side of the deck. We figured she was likely looking for the groundhog that lives under our deck, but we quickly realized that the mama deer had placed her baby at the edge of our deck.
What ensued was chaos. Daisy raced to the edge of the deck. The fawn jumped up and began to run. Daisy ran after the deer. My husband ran after Daisy and Emily, my youngest stabbed a hot dog with her fork and ran after everyone screaming, “Daisy, Daisy, I have a hot dog for you.” Daisy did not care. As they were running my middle daughter and I stayed on the deck and heard the saddest sound we have ever heard coming from that baby deer who was obviously calling for its mama. The deer ended up going into some bushes and Daisy became confused, so my daughter with the hot dog picked up Daisy and brought her back to the house. We could still hear the deer crying and then it stopped.
My daughters asked if we thought the baby was ok and we lied and said yes. The next day we looked for the fawn and did not see it. My husband and I both thought that the baby may not have found its mom but we kept that to ourselves. The following day I woke up and looked out my window to see the fawn snuggled under a tree on the edge of our yard. I yelled for the girls and my husband to come see. We realized that all of us thought that the baby was lost, or worse, but none of us wanted to say it aloud. The next morning it was back in the original spot in the middle of our yard.
Someone recently told me that each year when the mom has her babies she will place them in the same area as the previous year. I really hope that’s true. This time we will make sure Daisy doesn’t get out.
In September of 2019 husband and I became empty nesters. After all my girls were settled, one in an apartment on her own, and the other two at college, I returned to my job at school. I missed the girls but there were some benefits. I wasn’t worried about getting home in time to take my kids somewhere. We weren’t worried about making dinners for other people and honestly, it felt a little like our former life together prior to having kids when we would just figure out dinner or maybe not eat at all. After so many years of dinner planning I loved not worrying about that part of my day.
I decided that I would visit each daughter during September and October. The first weekend I visited my oldest daughter in her apartment. The second weekend I traveled to Rhode Island and visited my middle daughter. Next I went to Connecticut to spend family weekend with my then freshman daughter. With all three of my daughters I did the usual shopping, hanging out, eating out and connecting.
On the fourth weekend my husband and I traveled to Vermont for a long weekend at the Woodstock Inn. We spent our time hiking, shopping, eating out and relaxing, but by the time I arrived home I was tired of being away 4 weeks in a row. I love traveling but I also love down time and 4 weeks in a row was a little too much. As we unpacked I told my husband that I didn’t want to travel on the weekends for a while. I think I even said that I wish we could just stay home and do nothing. I know, be careful what you wish.
Now I wish that I could go away every weekend again or at least have the option. I am lucky that I am vaccinated but my husband is still waiting. Even if we were both vaccinated, going away is not like it was when we enjoyed those few months of being without kids. Like everyone I know, I just want to go back to normal life. I know (or hope) we will go back to normal soon but right now I would love to travel 4 weeks in a row without worrying about coronavirus. I don’t think I will ever complain about traveling too much again.
As I was thinking about what I wanted to write about today, I was cleaning out some files and came across this note.
In 2008 my daughter was 9 years old. She was watching a lunar eclipse with my husband and she mentioned that there would be a total solar eclipse on August 20, 2017 and that it would be so cool to see one in person. She wrote this note to my husband on a scrap of paper to remind them about it. Unbeknownst to her, my husband kept the note in his wallet for nine years. Yes, nine years!
As August 2017 began the news that there would be a solar eclipse in North America was taking center stage. There were stories on TV and in the newspaper leading up to the big event. Kelly again mentioned that it would be cool to see the solar eclipse. As she talked about it, my husband reached in his wallet and took out the note. He then told her that the two of them were flying to Nashville to see the eclipse.
This is the text I received when they witnessed the eclipse.
I am a believer. I believe that people who have passed visit those of us who have not. Sometimes they visit in dreams and sometimes they send messages or signs. Now, I realize that not everyone is a believer. In fact, I am married to a non-believer. He is a skeptic by nature. I am not. I not only believe that people who have passed visit or send messages, I have experienced it personally, more times than I can count.
As a little girl I remember feeling people and hearing them but when I mentioned it to my mom she discounted it. That’s understandable. Being a little girl, I figured it was my imagination. It wasn’t until several years ago I began feeling what I felt as a child. I could relay lots of stories about people coming to me and giving me messages for other people. I could write about my bother-in-law who died by suicide. I could tell you about the many visits from my mother-in-law whom I never met. She died at age 45 and has likely been the person I have “heard from” most often. I could tell you about a student’s father who died or my own grandfather and his cologne that I smelled after he died. There are more but you get the idea. I likely have enough examples to fill every day of slicing next March.
What interests me most is how the world seems to be divided into believers and non-believers. I have tried to figure out what causes someone to be a non-believer. Are they more scientific and feel there is no concrete proof? Are they ISTJ personality types? Some non-believers I know personally are ISTJs. Have non-believers experienced messages or signals but just never picked up on what they mean? Do they discount their feelings? Are they afraid?
Let’s look at the other side, the believers. I am without a doubt an ENFP whereas my husband is for sure an ISTJ. Does personality type play a role in whether you are a believer or non-believer? Do believers simply feel more and, as a result, are able to pick up on signs that non-believers can’t? Are believers more in touch with their own emotions and relate to the feelings of others, even if they are no longer here? Are believers simply gullible? Does religion come into play?
Of all the questions I have about believers and non-believers the one that stands out to me most is…Why does it matter? I used to try to convince non-believers to come to my side. I would site examples of what I felt, heard or sensed, but I have stopped trying to persuade people because the truth is…
It doesn’t matter.
I still love the people I know who are non-believers the same as I love the people who are believers. If someone is a believer and it helps them deal with death or with missing someone, what’s the harm? If someone doesn’t believe, there is no harm in that either. I do find it interesting however, that when I give a message to a non-believer they quickly say they don’t believe, which is then followed by them asking, “What else did (insert person’s name) say?
I hate roller coasters…like I seriously hate them and am scared of them. Up until several years ago I would sit on a bench and wait for my family members to ride. So, why am I writing about this picture? Well, you see this picture tells a story about everyone on this ride.
Let’s start with my daughter, Sara, on the left in the front. She doesn’t love scary rides. She is the daughter most likely to sit with me on a bench and wait while the others ride. She might look scared but she isn’t as scared as I am. She is reasonable and can talk herself into and out of situations by looking at all sides. Sometimes I call her when I have a bad day and she validates me. I love that about her.
Next to her is my youngest daughter, Emily. She is the bravest one in our family. She loves scary rides and will even go on roller coasters that go upside down and backwards. She lives in the moment and encourages all of us to do the same. I love that about her.
In the next row is my husband. Like our youngest, he likes scary rides. Emily can convince him to go on almost anything, including the sling shot ride at the boardwalk. Since we are a family of 5 one of us had to sit alone and my husband doesn’t mind being alone. He works from home and that is fine with him. I don’t understand that, but it works for him. He took the alone seat because he wanted the rest of us to have fun. I love that about him.
The back row on the left is my middle daughter, Kelly. She might look scared but she’s not. Kelly opted to sit with me because she knew I would be screaming. As this ride began I was squeezing her hand ridiculously hard but she let me do that because she knew I couldn’t hold in my emotions . She was providing comfort for me in my time of need. I love that about her.
I am next to Kelly. I am not only squeezing her hand but I am closing my eyes and hoping this ride is over soon. My entire family convinced me to ride with them. Leading up to the ride I was thinking of ways to get out of line. I asked for reassurance and they all said it would be ok. The anticipation of waiting in line almost killed me. Ok, not really but that’s how it felt. The ride began with the first slow climb as I told Kelly I loved her, in case we didn’t make it. Before I knew it we were plummeting down the first hill and whipping around curves. Up and down and around. Up and down and around. Up and down and around some more. Finally it slowed and we stopped. I made it! I didn’t die. I felt really great and I was proud of myself. My daughters and husband laughed at me. They told me they knew I could do it. I love that about them.