Hugs From Heaven

When I started writing this post, I searched my computer for those spectacular moments in photos, that perfect father/daughter memory that I could share with you. To my broken hearted surprise, I didn’t have a single photo on my computer of the both of us (and I am traveling abroad so all my hard copy photos are 4,000 miles away). A few tears streamed down my face, regret, then feeling like I was a terrible daughter..

Isn’t it funny how guilt sneaks up on us like that?

I was already feeling emotional from my earlier visit to Walmart, passing the Father’s Day card section and the solemn reminder that my dad is no longer with us. It’s been ten years but it still feels like yesterday that he left this earth. I miss him so much!

In a desperate attempt to find some photos, I reached out to my sister-in-law who lives in Dad’s old house (hoping she could find something – anything!). She didn’t find anything with me, but she did find some photo that made me smile – and cry again 🙂

So instead of starting this story out with words, I want to share a little about my dad through photos…..

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My dad – the daredevil… and his quirky sense of humor. If I close my eyes I can still hear his laugh and his slow southern drawl.

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My dad, the gangsta HAHAHA, Hangin’ with the cool kids  😉

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My dad – the devoted son (LOOK how cute Memaw Freeman is!!)

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My dad, the chef….. Oh the many memories this photo brings… The funny fisherman’s hat! Everyone who knew my dad, knew that hat.. The iron skillet (I remember him teaching me how to “season” iron and to this day, my favorite thing to cook with is iron). That spot where he is standing – oh all the pots of stew we cooked.

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My dad the farmer. From a the tiny town of Waynesboro to the city …. didn’t matter where he lived, he had a garden. From dad, I inherited a love for growing fresh veggies and sharing them with the people I love!.

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And my favorite photo of all!! My dad Pawpaw….My son looking at him with the same admiration that I have for him. The memory of sitting in front of the fireplace building a giant fire. Those were the BEST moment!

Daddy, I miss you.

I think I would give my left arm to hear your laugh one more time, to tell you I love you one more time.

So many things remind me of you – random little things.

When I see a crow. I remember the time you brought home a box of baby crows because you had just chopped down a tree and their mama flew away. They were so little and cute. When ever a crow crosses my path it takes me back to that day, that cardboard box full of baby birds. I always stop and think how excited we were when you got home.

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When I went for a walk to clear the tears and refresh my thoughts, this crow came across my path. And as the wind blew against my skin, I felt as though you were sending me hugs from heaven.

When I see wild rabbits running through the neighborhood, I remember the day you brought home that cute bunny we named “Cinnamon”. You said the pet store was going to feed her to a snake and you were saving her. How many bunnies did you end up bringing home that summer? …….  So many that we had to donate them to the Knott’s Berry Farm Zoo.

When I look at my neighbor’s fruit trees I think of all the trees you had. The lemon tree, olive tree, and apple tree. I still eat raw lemons (but they are never as sweet as the ones you grew) and I still love apple butter that mom used to make from the bags and bags of apples you would harvested.

When I see a pruned tree that looks like a tiny little stump sticking out of the ground, I chuckle and think of you. I always wondered why you cut SO much off the trees but they always grew back so beautiful.

I imagine heaven has rows and rows of beautifully groomed trees, overflowing gardens of fresh fruits and vegetables, hundreds of bunnies bouncing around on open grassy fields. You’re one of the angels keeping heaven beautiful.

Daddy, you took up a space in my heart that no one could ever fill. It has your memories, your laughter, your smile. It’s the place where I can go and be a little girl again, feeling safe, feeling loved, feeling like God gave me the most special man in the world.

I imagine the day we will get to meet again in heaven and how I will HUG you so tight.

I miss you ❤

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My Daddy

Thank you Kayla!! For the terrific memories and photos you shared with me!!

My Mother’s Footprint

Today I started a Tribute to my dad (who is now passed) for Father’s Day. I thought about his voice, his laugh and how much I would give to hear him just ONE more time.  To look into his eyes while I told him how much I loved him. Then it dawned on me ………. How many people do I have in my life right now, alive and ready to hear those beautiful words?

It brought tears to my eyes as I imagined my mother and all the words I would say in her tribute. Words I wasn’t sure I had ever spoken to her.

With that, I decided to do something unconventional for this week and do a Mother’s Tribute.

For My Mother Cecelia

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I think back to what life must have been like for you, a young-single-pregnant woman in the 60’s. Pressure from society, judgment from random people (how the world is so different today)…… How you were going to give me up for adoption, to a family that would be “Whole” with a mother and a father, to a family that might have more stability, to a family that could give me a better life.

Oh the pressure you must have been under!

Feeling life grow inside you, those little baby kicks, the heartbeat. Falling in love with this tiny person you’ve never met. The dread of saying good-bye, then spending a life time wondering “what ever happened to my baby”.

How brave you were to take a stand and follow your heart – to keep me. Knowing people would judge and criticize you. Knowing that life would sometimes be a struggle.

You made the right choice Mom……..

We struggled for many things (sometimes it was for food and sometimes a place to live) and I know there were probably hundreds of times when you felt you made the wrong choice in keeping me. The guilt of taking me from the life I “could” have lived.

But God had a plan!!

I want you to know that I wouldn’t change ANY of my life with you. When I think about the struggles we faced during my childhood, I think about how resilient I am today, how strong I am, how compassionate I am. Every moment we shared together left a mark on my heart, my soul, my life. Today, I am the woman God created me to be, because you made a choice.

When I look at childhood photos, I look at all the cute dresses you stitched with your loving hand because we couldn’t afford to buy new stuff. You taught me that people can be givers even when there is nothing to give (because you can always give your time, yourself, your love).

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I LOVED this dress – And my hair!!!

When I think of my most favorite memories, I remember all the times we got to go to Disneyland because you were on a square dance team. !! How many kids wouldn’t love to go there JUST once! I remember one time when I was doing my homework and you came in, “wanna go to Disneyland today?” !! Such amazing times…

When I smell a home filled with the aroma of homemade bread, I think of the endless loaves you made, and I wonder how come my bread never smells as good. When I eat bread & butter pickles or apple butter, I remember all the canning you used to do when dad brought home bags and bags of fresh food. You made the BEST apple butter!!!

Because of you, I love spending time in the kitchen, being creative and using up all the left overs in my frig. I have made some of the most awesome casseroles (out of the most random things)!

Because we struggled with money, I am thrifty and creative. My friends tell me how impressed they are at my ability to turn nothing into something. I recycle and up-cycle. I don’t let anything go to waste. My footprint on this beautiful earth is minimal. You taught me that!

Because I saw you cry when I was a little girl, I have compassion. I want to fix people, love people, help people. My life’s work caring for seniors was born out of experiences from my childhood. In 20 years of loving seniors, can you imagine how many lives I’ve touched? God put me through the struggles with you so that He could create in me a heart to serve.

Because we moved around a lot, I am resilient. I can go anywhere in this world and find my place, find a church, find a way to make it feel like home. No matter where I am in life, that is where I am supposed to be. I don’t dwell on where I “used to be” or where I “think I should be”. I am content where ever God places me.

So ………. if ever you feel guilt for anything you’ve done as a parent, please remember this. I LOVE the person God has created in me and I wouldn’t be “me” if I had not been with YOU.

Remember when “Guy” moved in next door to us in Oregon. My sister came home and told us that GOD had moved in next door!!! You were like a mama bear, running over there “HOW dare you tell my children you are God?!!!!” You protected your babies 🙂

Remember that time when I was a teen and I slapped you because I was so angry, or that time when I ran away from home for a week and you didn’t know where I was? How about the time I smoked pot for the first time or told you that I hated you?

My heart breaks for those moments, those stupid, stupid moments!!!

I fear when you are no longer on this earth, those memories will come and haunt me. They will play in my head over and over and I will regret not telling you how sorry I was for hurting you. I will think about all the things I wish I would have ever said to you.

“You taught me how to have strength – not by your words, but by your actions. Thank you.”

“You taught me to love life, animals, people ……. not money or things or having the best material stuff. Thank you.”

“I’m sorry I hurt you Mom, you didn’t deserve the way I treated you sometimes.”

“I love you Mom, you are the BEST mom I could have ever had.”

“I love your smile (it’s just like mine).”

“I think you are beautiful inside and out. When people tell me I look just like my mom, I feel pretty.”

“I don’t know how I will ever live without you.”

“I need you, your support, your encouragement, your words of wisdom, your ear when I just need to vent, your unconditional love.”

“I love you forever Mom!”

Those are the things I will wish I would have spoken to her – those are the things I need to say now! While I still have a chance, while she still has breath, while I can still call her on the phone and listen to her voice (her lovely voice).

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My beautiful Mother

Who are the people in your life that need to hear how much you love them, how much you appreciate their presence in your life?

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Thanks for stopping by! Leave a comment below and tell me about someone who YOU love and why. Rene’