Miracles Still Among Us

We tend to think of miracles as no longer happening. After all, so many times we pray for things to happen and they don’t. We figure God doesn’t care. That He doesn’t listen to us.

Simply not true. I’ve seen them, and even been the recipient of a few.

Consider these stories….

The lifesaving organ transplant surgery that came just in time, in fact only one week after being placed on the transplant list, which saved the recipient’s life.

A man who had a devastating stroke five years ago which hospitalized him for five weeks, three of which he still doesn’t remember. A man who had to re-learn now to speak, how to walk, how to feed himself, yet today no one who meets him has any idea of what he experienced and how close he came to dying. His wife calls him “her walking miracle.”

A woman facing a major 9-10 hour operation that had only a 20% chance of surviving the surgery, let alone ever recovering, and yet left the hospital less than a week after the operation,  right before Christmas, and who’s now living an almost perfectly normal life two years later.

A woman who was told she’d never get pregnant giving birth to her third child.

A man who went in the hospital for a biopsy of a lump on his pancreas which the doctors were convinced was pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly diagnoses. A man whose doctor just couldn’t understand his the lump could have totally disappeared in only three weeks, and after 12 years still has no such sign.

An accident victim not expected to live, or if he did, who’d be totally incapable of doing anything for himself; who’s now competing in marathons and actually coming in the top 10% of the runners.

And let’s not forget the nan who was rushed to the hospital after passing out, who just after being hooked up to every machine possible in the ER, coded in front of his wife and daughter, who watched helplessly as the doctor and nurses fought to bring him back. The man who walked out of the hospital the very next day with a pacemaker and a brand new chance at life. Who’s still going strong four years later.

A head on collision and a totaled minivan, yet all five people, including three children under the age of 6, in which everyone walked away with only minor injuries.

A rear end collision in which air bags deployed, preventing drivers from seeing where the were going, but yet both drivers walking away, again with only minor injuries.

At times like this we all need to stop and thank the Lord for His protection and care.

For His love and mercy. For His angels guarding everyone involved, and making sure everyone realizes that no matter how bad the original circumstance were, it could have ended so much worse.

But He helped each person involved, helped them to realize He wasn’t finished with them yet. They had more to do with their lives. That His plan for each of their lives would be realized. And then, and only then, would He call them home.

We tend to forget that these miracles still happen. Until they happen to us or our loved ones. I know all of these people. I rejoice at these amazing stories, one of which is mine.

Think about it.

What miracle has the Lord shown you recently?

 

Things We Take for Granted

This week has taught me a lot. I didn’t realize it until about midway through the week though.

Because sometimes things just have to hit us head-on before we realize that we cannot take anything for granted.

We take our voice for granted. Absolutely we do. We get up, tell our husband and kids “good morning” and start to begin our day.

Unless, of course, we wake up and we have laryngitis, that annoying pesky little inflammation of our vocal chords that says “I’m not letting you talk today! See how you like that!”

And suddenly, we can’t communicate, except by writing things down. Thank goodness for cell phones and texting, so at least I could make myself known to my family.

And for email at work. Of course the first day I had it, I received more phone calls than I usually get in a week! That was interesting! Fortunately everyone understood and ended up using email, but still….

At first, being the typical husband, Ben made jokes about it being a great birthday present for him that I couldn’t talk, but as the week progressed, he finally realized it wasn’t funny any more. Not only could I not talk, but I also developed a horrible cough at night, and ended up pulling muscles in my rib cage and stomach from it! Cough meds helped, but very little.

And every home remedy I tried…forget it! I even went to the doctor who told me, guess what, I had laryngitis and there’s nothing she could give me for it! Just don’t talk, drink hot tea with honey, etc.

I don’t like hot tea. I like it even less now.

And the longer it went on, the more frustrated I got. The more I tried to “talk” or should I say whisper, the more frustrated I got, and it was actually exhausting! I couldn’t communicate with my husband or our daughter except by texting because they couldn’t hear me.

Even going out for dinner for his birthday, I could only communicate with Ben by texting. Talk about frustrating! I was almost in tears after five days of it.

Then I realized….what’s it like to be like this permanently? Not speak at all? Or not to be able to hear? Or see? The things most of us take for granted others would give so much to have, even for a short time.

My voice is almost back now, but not totally. I’m still trying not to use it unless I have to so I don’t have a relapse.

It’s been a long week.

My story is but one small but frustrating example. It’s nothing compared to a woman I know who got a surprise call one morning this week that the fire trucks were at her house, and she needed to get home immediately! She’d certainly never even considered something like that happening. She sent her children to school, locked up the house and headed to work….and came home to a huge mess. Her stove evidently had a short somewhere which started the fire. The kitchen is gutted. Their belongings covered in soot and much of them wet and unsalvageable, and they face months of living somewhere else until insurance can repair the damage. But insurance cannot replace some of the precious photos and mementos that were lost.

Like all of us, they assumed their home would always be there, a safe haven and place of rest, housing their valuables and memories. We take it for granted, until that one time when everything changes.

Other people go to work one day, ready to make the day productive, and suddenly find themselves unemployed. A job they enjoyed, or certainly needed, a job they took for granted, is suddenly gone. And they have to start over, with only their unemployment check and an updated resume.

Many other people go to the doctor for a routine check-up, and end up with a life-altering and unexpected serious diagnosis. The health they took for granted is no longer healthy. And they look back on weeks past and wish they could go back.

There are many others. My story is minuscule in proportion, but nevertheless frustrating to me. And others around me.

But looking at it in comparison to other events, I do have to feel quite fortunate that’s my only frustration for the week.

And when I do get my voice back, I plan on making up for those lost days! But some people can’t make up for their losses; they have to start over. And I will probably eventually start taking it for granted again, because that’s just human nature.

Words of wisdom: Never, ever, take your life, or anything in it, for granted. Appreciate everything and every day. Because you just never know.

Happy Birthday to the Leader of the Flock

Or the “unofficial” leader of the flock! After all, the real leader of the flamingo flock has to have his very own pink feathers! Feathers that grow on him naturally, that is!

But how many guys can actually claim to be an honorary member of the flock? It takes a special guy to have that honor bestowed upon him.

First of all, he has to like pink. Actually he has to like wearing pink! And that’s one thing he’s never minded. He has pink sweaters, pink shirts, and of course certain pink flamingo tropical shirts! Not to mention the glasses, and the hats, and, well, then there are the lights…..

He has to like shrimp, and of course that’s one of his favorite foods. Fortunately eating them hasn’t turned him pink yet, but you never know…! He could wake up one morning with pink hair! (Ben, you have been warned!)

And he has to be a fan of pink wine or pink champagne, or at the least margaritas! And since he does prefer White Zinfandel, which is sort of pink, the flamingos took the opportunity to get some special wine for him for his birthday! Sure hope he likes it!

And since flamingos are quite creative, especially when it comes to decorating and party planning, the leader of the flock needs a bit of a flair for decorating, and, he is known for his talent at decorating the foyer ledge for Christmas and other seasonal events. Plus, the pool parties he has every year are renown for not only the food, but the costume contests, the festive decorating, and of course, the extremely talented bartenders! And let’s not forget Rusty the Golden Retriever Flamingo!

I think by now we all know who we’re talking about. Who else but our very own Ben, who actually began the flamingo madness at our house and invited those fabulous pink birds to take up permanent residence! In fact, they were invited for the Great Flamingo Fly-In on his 60th birthday, and they just never left!

So in honor of his special day, the flamingos decided to have a flamingo birthday party for him. Only the very best for the Leader of the Flock, of course!

There will be presents galore, we’re sure! All manner of flamingo gifts and gadgets to go with his growing collection! He can always use more flamingo wine stoppers, wine glasses, and of course a new set of flamingo dinnerware to use by the pool this summer for those special evenings with his closest flamingo friends who’ll join him for grilled shrimp and margaritas.

And what’s a birthday party without a birthday cake? And for this occasion, they decided to have a birthday cake contest, and they’d select the best five cakes to present to him! Of course, what he doesn’t know is that the flamingos’ way of presenting birthday cakes involves a bit of tossing and smashing, especially when it’s for a really special person! And especially when the flamingos have had an extra glass of wine or two! And the icing just may turn that hair pink!

Which one of these do you think he’d like the best?

So Ben, you’d better be prepared, because when the flamingos are involved, you just never know what will happen!!

Happy birthday to the Leader of the Flock! And a really good sport!

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If I Could Do It Over

If I just had a second chance I’d….

Why didn’t I do…..instead of what I did?

I had the chance to do….but I blew it! Why’d I make that decision? How can I change it?

Why do I always give in when I know I shouldn’t?

Why do I always second guess what I’ve done…and when I do, I know what I should’ve done instead. But now it’s too late.

We all say these things at one point or another in our life. Sometimes we say them, think them, many times. Over and over, in fact.

You’ve all heard the saying, “hindsight is 20-20”. And it sure is! Every time.

Every one of us at one time or another makes a wrong decision. We’re lucky if we only make one of two; most of us actually make wrong decisions almost every day. Whether it’s taking the wrong route to get to work, ordering the wrong lunch, or saying something out of place in a conversation, and immediately wishing you could snatch the words out of the air and put them back in your mouth. Or go through the floor.

Do-overs. Oh, what we’d give to have an opportunity for just one or two of them!

But then, just maybe, some of the most precious things, most precious people, in our lives wouldn’t be in our lives.

There’s the woman who’s in the middle of getting a divorce, and it’s not an easy one. Almost every day she says why did I ever marry that man?! And then  she looks at her three children and realizes, if she hadn’t married him, those children wouldn’t be here.

Or you take a wrong turn on your way to work which makes you late. You’re so mad at yourself…until you hear a news report about a fatal traffic accident on that same road that happened right after you turned off onto the wrong street. Do you still want a do-over?

Or for many years you’ve always regretted breaking up with that one guy you just knew was the love of your life. Because your parents and friends kept warning you about him. You took their advice, but you always wondered…until you discovered he’s now in prison for murdering his wife. The one he married a few years after you broke up.

Now these are extreme examples, of course. We all make decisions and choices on a daily basis. Some wrong; some right. Some we can change; some we can’t.

Life is not a movie in which we can re-shoot a scene if we don’t like it, or change a script to make the ending different. Because if it were, we’d never be satisfied. We’d always want to re-do something until we got it perfect. And in doing that, we could miss out on something precious. Someone precious.

I wanted to be an attorney when I graduated from college. But my first husband wanted to do that as well. And since we had already gotten married before graduation, I decided to wait. He applied to several law schools and didn’t get accepted. So I certainly didn’t try, because if I’d gotten accepted when he didn’t, well, that wouldn’t have been too good for the relationship. A few years later that marriage ended, and I figured by then it was too late to try, and my career path took a different turn. Had I ended up going to law school, I wouldn’t have been in the place I was, at just the right time to meet Ben, who’s been my husband now for 32+ years. And I wouldn’t have our daughter Ashley, or our precious granddaughter Rachel. I wouldn’t change that for anything. And funny how things go….my career in real estate has led me to be in charge of writing and interpreting leases…legal documents…and working closely with the attorneys who prepare some of them. My life may not have been what I thought it was going to be, but it certainly turned out just the way it should have.

Life isn’t always perfect. Our lives are the product of our choices, just like mine has been. All of our choices. Yes, we are affected by others’ choices as well, but how we react to those choices determines our life. Their decisions alone do not ultimately determine our life. We can live in the land of regret or we can live in the land of new beginnings.

And the sunrise of the future is so much brighter than the sunset behind us.

When a Loved One is Lost

It can happen in the blink of an eye. In a nano-second. Faster than it’s taken me to write these first few sentences.

One minute life is perfect…or almost perfect. The next minute the phone rings and your world is turned upside down…never to be made right again. You thought you had all the time in the world.

And suddenly that time is no more. The cord was cut; the connection severed. And it cannot be repaired.

All the things we’d planned to do to make things right are only that. Plans we had. Plans that will never work because they can’t be used.

“I was going to call tomorrow…”

“I was going to stop by this weekend…”

“I was going to apologize…”

“I was going to tell him/her how much I love them…”

“I was going to ask for forgiveness…”

“I was going to forgive…”

“I was going to say let’s try again…”

Look at the common denominator in these sentences. “I WAS going to…” But you didn’t. You put it off. You ignored that feeling inside you that said, “do it now”.

You were too angry. Too hurt. Too proud. Too afraid. You knew you were right and no matter what, you would NEVER forgive or listen to what they had to say.

Because you didn’t know what would happen if you did. You didn’t know how they’d take it, so you waited for them to make the first move.

Or you waited for them to finally see things your way, and tell you you were right all along and their point of view was totally wrong.

Now they can’t say anything. Neither can you. Your chances in this life are gone.

And what’s even sadder…most of the time it’s a family member, or members, that I’m talking about. Sure, friends fit in that situation as well, but when it’s family, it’s so much worse.

Lately I’ve tried to reach out to several people. It was difficult. Because I knew what would probably happen. But I tried anyway. Unfortunately, so far I was right. But it won’t stop me from trying again.

Because anger, hard feelings, grudges, and indignation have no place in a family, or a friendship.

We have no idea when it’ll be too late to try. No idea when we’ll get a call, or even worse, read about it in the newspaper because no one would take the time to reach out and at least let us know. I’ve been on that end, too, and most likely so have you.

Loved ones can be lost in many ways; they can be lost to us because of words and misunderstandings, and they can be lost forever because they’re no longer here.

Is there someone you need to reach out to? Don’t wait. Try. You may not get a response, as in my case, but you need to try. And then try again. No matter who or what started it, you need to be the one to start the reconciliation process. Before it’s too late.

Because when a loved one is lost forever, you’ll only have regrets.

And memories of what could have been again.

Wearing of the Green…Flamingo Style

The flamingos are really having a difficult time this week. You see, they never want to miss the opportunity for a good party. But St. Patrick’s Day is giving them a hard time.

Why? Have you ever seen an Irish flamingo?

Well, you know these flamboyant birds like to sparkle and bask in elegance and glitter.  But St. Patrick’s Day just doesn’t lend itself to a lot of glitz and glitter.

Green felt hats! Shamrocks? Four leaf clovers? Can you just picture these flashy birds wearing these green Irish hats? Without any touch of sparkle?

And leprechauns….they just don’t fit the flamingo mold. Bright red hair and beards don’t go with pink feathers! Neither do green coats and green top hats! Especially when they don’t even include feathers!

Now flamingos are jokesters by nature, and they do like to pull silly pranks on their friends, like leprechauns are known for, but dressing like one…no way! Not in your pink lifetime!

And kelly green doesn’t really go very well with flamingo pink! Trust me, they’ve tried all kinds of combinations. It just doesn’t work….except in bouquets of pink roses! Which has nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day.

Then there’s the traditional Irish meal of corned beef and cabbage. Now many of you like that and even look forward to going out to dinner and enjoying a tasty meal of it.  But have you ever seen the flamingos out enjoying a meal of corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day?

Now you do know that flamingos really enjoy their libations! But green beer? First of all, they don’t even like beer. Champagne, wine, margaritas…all manner of tropical cocktails, yes, but not beer. Especially when it’s dyed bright green! The only green drink I’ve ever seen them have is a margarita, and that’s LIME green!

Irish music? Far too raucous for these pink birds who prefer jazz or the Margaritaville sounds!

In fact, the only St. Patrick’s Day tradition the flamingos can halfway get into is the idea of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But then they’d have to find the leprechaun that’s guarding it in order to take it, and that’s just not their style…

So what’s a flamingo to do for St. Patrick’s Day?

Believe it or not, they are just taking this day very low key. They’ve actually planned a quiet (for a flamingo, that is) evening at home. Enjoying a dinner of lime drizzled shrimp with sliced avocado, margaritas garnished with an extra slice of lime, followed by a dessert of key lime cupcakes splashed with green and gold sprinkles.

And discussing the possibility of starting their own March 17 holiday for next year…maybe St. Flamingo’s Day…??

And the wearing of the pink?!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the Flamingos!

Disclaimer: All content posted here is assumed to be in the public domain. If you find one of your images here and wish it to be removed please contact me. Flamingo photos from TravelJapanblog.com

Marrying Into the Family

It’s something you really don’t think about. Not really. You’re totally in love with your husband/wife to be, and can’t wait until the wedding day. As well you should. Because marriage is supposed to be forever. Forever with the love of your life.

And with his/her family. That includes parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins…the whole family tree. Because now they’re your family as well.

In an ideal world, that new family tree is great! It’s strong, and its branches are ready to support a lot of new growth. Branches that are grafted on are quickly accepted and grow along with the other branches, just as if they’d always been part of that tree, blending in perfectly.

That’s in a perfect world. And sometimes that perfect world exists.

But a lot of the time it really doesn’t.

Because there are too many branches that don’t want new growth. Or new ideas. They don’t want to accept anyone new because they don’t want to change the family tree. It’s been good to them for a long time, so why mess things up by grafting on new branches?

Now before you start getting offended by this writing, let me make one important point. This is NOT written about any one family, or any one person. I’m not perfect, and neither are you. My family’s not perfect and neither is yours. But I wouldn’t have them any other way. However….

In the beginning of a new relationship, his/her family is usually excited to meet you. You’re a bit nervous, because you want them to like you. And they usually do, or seem to, at least at first.

But many times, the more you get to know them, and the more they get to know you, well, you find there are a lot of branches on that tree you’d really like to trim away.

And you eventually realize they’d probably like to do the same with you!

Every family goes through this. There are no perfect family/in-law relationships. At least none that I know of. There’s usually at least one person that wants to make your life difficult because they just don’t like you, or maybe they’re jealous of you. And there’s nothing you can do to win them over. Sure, you try, but nothing changes.

Did you know they say the same thing about you? Of course they do. Everything’s your fault. Just like to you, it’s all their fault.

And sometimes that’s actually true. Sometimes it’s one or two family members who just like to cause trouble because they want to be the most important branch on the tree, and they want everyone to know it. And you represent a change they don’t like. Or you don’t like them for whatever reason, and you let them know it by your actions.

There’s not much, unfortunately, that you can do to change it. Any more than they can change you. Just be sure you’re not the one who’s trying to change everyone else and make them conform to your ideas and your way of doing everything. That doesn’t work either.

Because all families are unique. They have their own dynamics, their own idiosyncrasies, their own traditions and outlook on life. His/her family is no different from yours in that respect.

And let’s be honest; your family isn’t perfect, and they don’t always get along with everyone either. Do they? And what does your family really think of him/her?

Combining two families into one isn’t the easiest thing to do. I’m sure you’ve all seen the signs so popular at weddings today that read something like, “We’re all family now so pick a seat, not a side!”

Well, that’s true, but…….

I have no answers for solving this age-old problem. It’s been around forever, and unfortunately will continue to be. Why? Because we’re all unique. We all have our own likes and dislikes, our own ideas of who we want as friends. We get offended at things people say and do that hurt us, and sometimes we can’t get past it. Because either we’re too proud to try, or the other person won’t try.

Just remember, it’s his/her family and you’re now a part of it, too, or will be soon. Make yourself the strong branch to be grafted on that tree. And if the tree doesn’t accept you, as long as you’ve done your part, there’s nothing more you can do.

Except start a new tree with your new spouse. Plant it close to theirs, but realize it’s now got to stand on its own, rooted in good fertile soil and nourished by love. And one day, just maybe, a few of the branches on that older tree may finally want to be grafted on to yours.

Mom, I Wish I Could Tell You…

I have so much to tell you. Especially about last weekend. Do you know how many times I caught myself thinking…I have to remember to tell Mom that! Or, wait til I tell my mother about… Or, Mom will be so excited when I tell her who I saw…

But I can’t do that. Because you’re gone.

Even though it’s been ten years, I still have moments…lots of them…that I start to pick up my phone to punch in your number. I still remember it, you know. And probably will for many more years. That’s not something you forget when it’s been such a big part of your life.

But last weekend after my book signing, I really, REALLY have so much I want to tell you. So much I know you’d be happy to hear. So much I want to share with you.

Like my first visitors…a couple I’ve known for years. Now in their early eighties, but hardly looking even seventy. I remember when Emma and Joe were married. You and Daddy dressed up and left me to stay with my aunt and uncle while you went to the wedding. Before you left, Uncle Fowler took a picture of the two of you, and you can see me reflected in the mirror behind you, giggling like the little girl I was at the time. This couple had stories about you, and even more precious memories of my father, who had been a loyal customer at their family car dealership for many years. (Joe sold us my first car – a 1968 gold Camaro with a black vinyl top!) Mom, you would’ve loved to have seen them.

A lady who’d known you for years came by. She told me how as a young nurse she used to go to our house and give insulin shots to my grandmother when she’d lived with us. And as soon as she said that, I remembered her! I’m sure you would, too!

And Mom, a couple of ladies from your church came by as well, and told me how much they still missed you. One of them reminded me how you sat behind her every Sunday! (You all did make sure you sat in the same pew every week!) And did you know the church actually put the word out about my book signing in their bulletin? I couldn’t believe it!

Several of your former students also came by or called. They told me how much they loved you, and how you’d been their favorite teacher. How you gave them snacks every day, and taught them colors and numbers, and always made sure their day was fun!

One of your assistant teachers even came by and said you were the best teacher she’d ever taught with! And I’m sure you were!

I even got a personal note and book order when we got home from your former reading supervisor from your teaching days. She said the most wonderful things about you, including how honored she’d been to have worked with you!

And did you know some of my friends from high school had a reception for me afterwards? As you remember, a lot of them still live there, but several of them came back to town just to be there for us! Us. You and me.

Only you weren’t there. Except in our memories.

And my friends had wonderful memories of you, too.

Carol and Molly told me how you’d taught their daughters, and how one of those little girls had obviously never had to pick up her toys before. Until Mrs. Chapman taught her that’s what was expected!

Diane reminded me about the dining room set you’d given her when she and her husband were married almost 50 years ago! And she wanted me to know that same dining room set is now being used by their son and his wife. They just couldn’t bear to get rid of it. (And she bought three books! One for her and one for each of her sisters!)

I know you remember my high school best friend Laura. Of course you do. After all, her mom joined you in heaven about 6 months after you got there. She and I had a great time getting reacquainted after all these years. And I so hope we can continue to rekindle that relationship.

And my friend Jenny’s brother told us how his mom would let him walk across the field from their house to yours, watching him every second, of course, so he could go visit you. You’d give him milk and cookies and talk for a while, and then you’d walk him across the street and watch him cross the field to go back home. I’d never heard that story, but I can picture you doing it.

Everyone there remembered the parties you let us have in our basement rec room. We’d eat sandwiches and potato chips, listen to music, dance, and shoot pool for hours. Many of them remember going upstairs during the parties, just to talk to you for a few minutes, because, well, they just enjoyed your company.

Everybody loved you, Mom. I don’t think you had any idea how much.

I just wish I could tell you all about how wonderful it was to see so many people I grew up with, and how touched I was with their remembrances of you.

Many of them have already emailed me about how much they’re enjoying our story. And I’m so happy…I just wish you were here to enjoy it with me.

I miss you so much. But what an impression you made on so many people.

It was all worth it.

 

Note: Names of my high school friends have been changed. But you know who you are.

Going Home Again

It’s nostalgic feeling. Like nothing I can describe.

Sure, you can move away, but somehow you just never seem to totally lose contact with the people you were close to when you were growing up. Especially the ones who still live in that same area.

In my case, miles and time have separated us, but the memories and the friendships have not. The ties may have loosened for a while, but they are still there, and still intact.

The memories keep us together.

When my first book was published a few months ago, I wanted to have my first book signing in my hometown. Since the book is about my mother and the last years of her life, as well as dealing with the heartache and grief that accompanied that tragic event, it was only fitting to return to the town where I had grown up, and where my mother had been a beloved kindergarten teacher for many years. Where several of her friends still lived, and so did many of my school friends.

And I’m so glad I did.

You see, you can go home again. I did.

It may not be exactly the same as you remember, but it’s still home. There are the same streets, the same houses, the same churches. The “downtown” area is still there, only with new businesses, several owned by friends I went to school with. My old high school is there, in the same location, but with an entirely new facade and totally modern interior. But it’s still there, and as we drove past it, so many memories flooded back I was just suddenly overwhelmed. Especially when I realized I was going to see so many of those high school friends again soon.

My old house, or should I say my mother’s old house, is still there, looking almost the same, and for a brief instant I felt like we should turn the car into that U-shaped driveway and pick her up to go with us to my book signing. And every time I ride past it, my heart overflows and the memories leak out of my eyes.

But then I realized…the book was about her, and about my losing her. How I felt; how I dealt with it. How other daughters can deal with the same tragedy and survive. If she were still here, which I still wish, none of this would be happening.

This was the time I was going home to honor my mother’s memory by introducing the book I’d written about her.

I didn’t know what to expect at all. A good friend from high school was hosting my event in her gallery. Like almost all of my classmates, she’d known my mother, like probably over half the town had.

But after her being gone for ten years, would they still remember her?

Did they ever! I cannot tell you how many people came by or called, or even emailed me to tell me they remembered her; they loved and missed her; how she taught their children, or their grandchildren. Several people came by just to tell me she’d taught them, and how they still remembered her after over forty years, and what an impression she’d made on their life. My heart was so touched from the outpouring of love I experienced. Many of the visitors told me stories from her teaching days that I’d never heard. And they all told me how much she’d been loved. Not only her friends, but my friends who still live there, or who, like me, came back to their hometown for the event. To honor my mother.

There was a reception after the book signing at one of my friends’ homes, and I had the opportunity to not only reconnect with a lot more of my high school friends, but to exchange stories of our parents, since our parents all knew each other as well as we did. That’s the beauty of a small town.

You can go home again.

It won’t be the same as it was when you were growing up. Because you’re older; you’re now an adult; not the teenager growing up and ready to spread those wings and fly away. Even though, like me, when you return to your roots, to your home town, you suddenly feel you’re back in those earlier days when we were still young, when our entire life was ahead of us. When we just knew we were going to make a difference in the world.

But guess what. You and I did make a difference. We all did. In our own various ways. I learned that this weekend. We touched other people’s lives in ways we didn’t even realize, and in ways we’ll never know. Just by being who we were; who we still are.

And for a little while that weekend I wished in a way I could be living back there again, as well as in my current city. We even made a few new friends, friends we will definitely keep.

Funny how that works. I still miss my hometown.

One thing I do know, though, I can continue going home. Because my heart will always be there.

As will my memories. My memories in this daughter’s heart.